Unions unaware of Lonmin job cuts

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LonminMine Independent Newspapers. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya.

Johannesburg - Trade unions were not aware about job cuts at Lonmin mines in Marikana outside Rustenburg in North West, they said on Monday.

Trade union Solidarity said it was not surprised by reports that Lonmin plans to cut 5,700 workers, said general secretary Gideon du Plessis.

“We were waiting for something like this to occur. We are not surprised.”

He said Lonmin indicated during wage negotiations that it was assessing some of its shafts that were not making profit.

“We were told during negotiation that retrenchment are imminent. The company has not formally consulted with us (Solidarity) with its plan to cut jobs. We only picked it up on the news,” he said.

The dominant union at Lonmin, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), also said it was not aware of the planned job cuts.

“We are not aware of this,” said national treasurer Jimmy Gama.

The National Union of Mineworkers said too it was not aware of the impending retrenchment.

“We have not been consulted about it. There has not been formal engagement,” said general secretary Frans Baleni.

He said the retrenchments might be triggered by the long strike in the platinum sector.

Amcu members at Lonmin, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and Impala downed tools on January 23, demanding a basic monthly salary of R12,500.

The strike ended on June 24 when they accepted a three-year wage deal that will increase salaries by R1000 in the first and second year of the agreement and R950 in the third year.

Lonmin was not available for comment.

Amplats announced on July 21 that it planned to sell its Rustenburg and Union mines.

“The intention to exit Union mine (in Limpopo)... has already been announced, and it has now been concluded that Rustenburg and our Pandora JV asset will be better placed in the hands of new owners who would be able to provide the focus and capital for the operations to have a successful future,” chief executive Chris Griffith said in a statement at the time.

The company broke the news in a statement, reporting vastly reduced profits for the six months ending June 30, 2014.

Griffith said the dominant feature of the first half of the year was the strike, during which 40 percent of Amplats's production was not in operation.

On August 16, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa told thousands of mineworkers that Amplats plan to cut jobs was not linked to the recent wage strike in the platinum sector.

“We submit that the magnitude of this decision is not one that can be taken in a month, it has always been coming,” Mathunjwa said at the time.

“As a union we are prepared to discuss the plans of the company to protect the interests of our members in this transition process.” - Sapa



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