Northam strike costs climb to R400m

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Independent Newspapers.

Picture: Boxer Ngwenya.

Johannesburg - Losses in revenue and wages because of a month-long strike at Northam Platinum's Zondereinde mine in Limpopo are running at R400 million, the company said on Tuesday.

“Revenue losses for the period amount to approximately R360 million. Employees have lost approximately R50 million in basic wages during the same period,” spokeswoman Memory Johnstone said.

Members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) at the Zondereinde mine, near Amandelbult, went on strike on November 3.

They demanded a salary increase of R2100 for core workers such as rock drill operators, and R2000 for non-core workers.

Another demand was for the living-out allowance to be increased from R2200 to R3718 a month.

The union has rejected the company's final offer of an eight to nine percent increase.

On November 20, the company said that acceding to the NUM's demands would significantly raise the business's cost base and jeopardise the long-term sustainability of the company and jobs.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) has called a meeting between the NUM and the company to resolve the pay dispute.

Both parties confirmed these talks would be held on Thursday.

“The CCMA has called a meeting at Northam Platinum on Thursday,” NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said.

“Our members have not changed their demands. The strike will continue until the demands have been met.”

The NUM marched to the company's headquarters in Johannesburg on November 26 to hand over a memorandum of demands.

In it, the NUM asked the company to negotiate in good faith.

The company responded with an open letter to NUM general secretary Frans Baleni on November 28, denying it was not negotiating in good faith.

“Good faith bargaining has been a guiding principle of the company’s approach to these and all other negotiations. This is clearly evidenced by the moves and concessions that the company has made.”

The company said it was not possible to negotiate if only one party ever moved, and the other party maintained its position.

“We therefore call on NUM to show good faith in its approach to these negotiations.”

Mammburu said it was unnecessary for the company to write an “expensive letter” to Baleni.

“The company spent a lot of money publishing the letter. The money should have been used to improve the condition of the workers,” he said. - Sapa

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