Disappointment over union’s wage decisionComment on this story
Johannesburg - Trade union Amcu's decision to continue its marathon strike in the platinum mining sector is disappointing, the platinum producers said on Monday.
“(It's) disappointing as the companies' efforts to develop a new offer that is affordable and sustainable was designed to come as close as possible to meeting the union's demand,” said spokeswoman Charmaine Russel.
She said the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) informed the producers of its decision on Monday afternoon.
Amcu members at Lonmin, Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) operations in Rustenburg, North West, and at Northam in Limpopo downed tools on January 23 demanding a basic salary of R12 500 over a period of four years.
The strike, now in its 102nd day, has cost the companies over R16 billion in revenue and workers have lost R7.29bn in earnings.
“The companies note that Amcu has also made no effort to suggest a solution to a strike which, as is well documented, is causing deep and adverse impacts on employees, their communities and the local Rustenburg economy as a whole,” said Russel.
She said the companies would continue taking the offer directly to employees.
“Lonmin has asked employees to indicate their intention to accept the settlement offer by sms by May 8. A provisional return to work date of May 14 has been planned, and would be dependent on the responses received.”
Impala and Amplats were also communicating with employees to gauge response to the offer, she said.
“None of the companies have set final acceptance dates nor have they presented ultimatums to employees.”
She said the companies received feedback from a large number of employees that while they would prefer to accept the offer and return to work, many were fearful of doing so due to the threats to their personal safety.
Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said union members had rejected the offer from the employers.
“Our members have rejected the offer. The Amcu strike is protected. No one should put pressure on us... We appeal to progressive forces to put pressure on the employer to accept this demand,” he said.
“Our members in all the three mines resoundingly rejected the current employer offer and reiterated their original demand of R12,500 in four years.”
He said only an “honourable settlement” could resolve the three-month-long strike.
Mathunjwa said mass meetings held by mine officials were fuelling the tensions.
“As a union, we are opposed to these efforts and warn that should there be any altercations, we will not be held accountable,” he said.