Platinum mines fight to end strike

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AngloPlatStrike

Reuters.

Johannesburg - Platinum producers have gone full steam ahead to reach employees in an attempt to get them consider their latest revised wage offer after talks with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) collapsed last week.

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) human resources managers are expected to make door-to-door visits to the homes of employees in the Eastern Cape today in an attempt to end the strike.

Amplats spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said the company was targeting towns including Mthatha, Matatiele, Lusikisiki and Sterkspruit this week. The company held a mass meeting in Rustenburg at the weekend and also planned to reach employees in Mozambique, she said.

This comes after Amcu transported members to their homes in the Eastern Cape, Mozambique and Lesotho for the Easter long weekend. Many have reportedly stayed at home to wait out the strike.

Amplats’s Rustenburg, Amandelbult and Union mines have been most affected by the strike and production decreased 84 percent, 75 percent and 86 percent, respectively, in the first quarter.

Impala Platinum (Implats) is also rolling out a communication plan using text messages and radio campaigns.

Depending on feedback from the employees, Implats might reopen its Rustenburg shafts.

“Once we get feedback from employees, and if most of them want to return to work, we will conduct a risk assessment and reopen shafts,” Implats spokesman Johan Theron said yesterday, adding that it expected to have a clear picture of the feedback next week.

Only 40 percent of Implats mines are operational and this includes those in Zimababwe and Limpopo, while all its Rustenburg operations have been closed since February.

Lonmin sent out SMSes, printed flyers and posters and ran adverts on radio and in local papers at the weekend. The company’s spokesperson said it was too early to get an accurate response from striking employees. Lonmin mines in Rustenburg are not operating.

Amcu members rejected the latest revised wage offer at mass meetings held at the weekend and vowed to strike until July.

The latest revised wage offer will increase the cash remuneration of entry-level employees to R12 500 a month by July 2017. This will mean salaries of entry-level employees will increase by between 8.5 percent and 10 percent.

The 13-week platinum strike is expected to erode the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) for the first quarter.

Gina Schoeman, an economist with Citi Research, said GDP growth for the year as a whole was at risk of coming in below her forecast of 2.3 percent due to the strike. Her rough estimate was that between 0.1 and 0.2 percentage points might be deducted from the annual GDP growth rate.

Platinum exports contribute significant to the country’s current account and GDP.

“The strike will have a downside impact on GDP in the mining sector in the first quarter, with further downside to exports in the second quarter,” Schoeman said.


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