Blackout on talks as strike into 18th week

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IOL pic may15 lonmin strikers march Reuters Striking miners chant slogans as they march in Nkaneng township, outside the Lonmin mine in Rustenburg, on May 14, 2014. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

Johannesburg - A thick veil of secrecy shrouded talks yesterday between platinum producers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) as efforts to end the 17-week strike got under way, facilitated by labour court Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker.

None of the parties would give a glimpse of what was going on behind closed doors, save for a terse response from platinum sector spokeswoman Charmane Russell, who said updates would be given tomorrow when the parties were expected to announce a result.

The talks are scheduled for three days.

“We are not going to be providing an update on a daily basis. Should there be something to communicate, we will do so. Otherwise, we will communicate on Friday afternoon,” Russell said.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa was not available for comment.

Cosatu yesterday condemned the dismissal of striking essential services workers at Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana, North West.

“The mine bosses care about profit and do not care about the safety of workers who are not able to go to work,” Cosatu’s North West secretary, Solly Phetoe, said.

Lonmin fired 235 essential services employees for not meeting the company’s deadline for employees to resume their duties on May 14.

Cosatu said it wanted Lonmin to reinstate the dismissed employees or it would take the matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) “on behalf of those workers who are not organised in any union”.

Jimmy Gama, Amcu’s national treasurer, said on Tuesday that Lonmin was wrong to dismiss workers.

Union members had reported that “safety challenges have prevented them from going to work, and we have been communicating this to Lonmin,” Gama said.. “We are saying essential services members must report to work as part of their contract, but it is difficult. We are exploring all avenues to deal with this.”

About 70 000 Amcu members have been on strike since January 23 for a R12 500 basic minimum wage at Lonmin, Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum. The union has rejected the employers’ offer of R12 500 by July 2017, which included living-out and holiday leave allowances and excluded medical and retirement benefits, and any bonuses.

Previous mediation efforts facilitated by the CCMA failed to resolve the impasse. - Business Report



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