Platinum strike slashes jobs

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Jobless1 . File photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Rustenburg - The over four-month-old strike in the platinum mining sector has reduced employment opportunities in Rustenburg in the North West, unemployed people said on Tuesday.

“We are all suffering because of the mine strike. I used to get piece jobs every day but, since the strike, I will be lucky to get one piece job a week,” laments Emmanuel Rakopo.

He was one of about 50 men standing on James Moroka Drive in Rustenburg hoping to get a temporary job.

Rakopo is a builder, welder, and painter.

He said he could not get work because people in Rustenburg no longer refurbished their homes due to the strike.

Another unemployed man, Ishmael Pule, said he was employed as a contract worker in the mines but was forced to go to the side of the road looking for jobs because he could not earn a living since the strike.

“Our employer has not been able to pay us because he has not been rendering any service in the mine,” said Pule.

Scores of men sat under trees along James Moroka Drive holding placards bearing their trade, ranging from painters and builders, to general workers.

Domestic worker Annie Malapile said her working days had been reduced and she risked losing her job.

“I now work three days a week compared to five days before the strike,” she said.

“My boss is employed in the mines and she too is struggling. I am afraid one day she will no longer afford to pay me.”

She said the cut in her work days was just a compromise.

“I know my job is on the line. Families are struggling and cutting on cost,” said Malapile.

Mineworkers affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) downed tools at Lonmin, Impala Platinum, and Anglo American Platinum on January 23, demanding a minimum wage of R12,500 a month.

They have rejected the companies' offer that would bring their cash remuneration to R12,500 by July 2017.

The strike has cost companies R19.8 billion in revenue and employees have lost R8.8bn in earnings, according to website platinumwagenegotiations.co.za created by the companies.

Talks to end the strike were continuing under the auspices of the labour court at an undisclosed location in Johannesburg.

Defiant mineworkers gathered at Amplats's Khuseleka mine on Tuesday, waiting to be briefed on how talks progress.

“We are not going underground without the R12,500,” said rock drill operator Peter Tembu.

He said his grandfather, his father, and now he had been overworked and underpaid by the mines.

“The struggle for a living wage is now. We cannot allow the system to abuse us. Enough is enough,” he said.

Men stand in groups at the sports ground near Sondela informal settlement.

They receive cellphone calls from friends and family members inquiring about the strike.

“We are still on strike, re tla e tsa jang malome (what can we do, uncle),” one said answering his cellphone.

He said his uncle called him daily to check whether he was safe or the strike had ended. - Sapa



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