Amcu fights for right to strike at gold mines

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Johannesburg - The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) is expected to argue at the Labour Court in June for its constitutional right to strike at some gold mining houses.

On Friday, Judge Edwin Molahleli postponed his ruling to June 5 after Amcu and employers asked him to allow them adequate time to prepare.

Molahleli also postponed the interim order involving Amcu’s compliance with picketing rules at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and Impala Platinum (Implats) following an agreement between the companies and Amcu.

Friday’s postponements added to uncertainty amid the mining crisis, Sibonginkosi Nyanga, an analyst at Imara SP Reid, said on Friday. “It postpones the finalisation of the crisis. Neither the industry nor the country can afford additional uncertainty that becomes the cause of further downgrades of South Africa’s sovereign credit rating.”

Amcu, Lonmin, Implats and Amplats will go back to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) next week to re-establish picketing rules. The strike at the three biggest platinum producers will then be in its ninth week.

Amcu, the biggest union in the platinum belt, was absent when the rules were established in a meeting between employers and the CCMA as its top brass were attending a Labour Court hearing on the gold strike.

Amcu planned to strike at Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu and Masimong mines, AngloGold Ashanti’s operations, and Sibanye Gold’s Driefontein operation in support of its R12 500 minimum wage demand.

The producers asked the court to interdict the strike as Amcu members had benefited from an agreement on an 8 percent increase reached between producers and the National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity and Uasa.

Amcu represents about 17 percent of the workforce in the gold sector.

In the platinum sector about 70 000 Amcu members downed tools on January 23 in support of the same minimum wage for underground workers, who currently earn a basic salary of about R5 500 a month.

The employers said they could not afford the increase and offered a three-year deal with increases of between 9 percent and 7.5 percent a year.

The Labour Court granted Implats an interdict ordering Amcu to picket in designated areas and refrain from intimidating non-striking employees.


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