Platinum strike: Solidarity approaches court

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IOL pic jun3 justice scales file Independent Newspapers .

Johannesburg - The trade union Solidarity is set to file an urgent application with the Constitutional Court in a bid to restore the right to work for non-striking workers in the platinum mining sector.

“We are in the process of drafting an application. Our aim is to approach the Constitutional Court on an urgent basis for the workers' right to work to be restored,” general secretary Gideon du Plessis said on Tuesday.

Solidarity was seeking a court order for the services of the non-striking workers to be restored.

The mining companies had suspended work for non-striking employees as a result of the strike.

“We want non-striking workers to be able to resume their work activities,” said Du Plessis.

“They can start with minimum production.”

If successful, the court order would affect about 40 000 non-striking workers, service providers, and contractors.

These included Solidarity members and other non-striking workers.

Solidarity also wanted the court to order additional policing to ensure the safety of those reporting for work.

“We do not foresee the strike to end anytime soon considering that it is ideologically driven,” said Du Plessis.

He said the trade union's members, who were not taking part in the strike, had lost approximately 40 percent of their remuneration packages, made up of variable pay, which included attendance allowances, production bonuses, overtime pay, and team bonuses.

“While prevented from working, they lose that part of their remuneration package.”

Du Plessis said Solidarity would ask the court to order the South African Police Service and South African National Defence Force to ensure order was restored in the North West platinum belt.

“This is more of a humanitarian disaster than a labour relations dispute.”

He said the strike had reached a tipping point where both striking and non-striking workers had lost so much money that the wage settlement would not be able to make up for the losses.

“They are now solely dependent on friends, families and institutions... it should have never ever got to this point.”

He said on average a mineworker had eight to 10 dependants, which meant that millions of people had been affected by the almost five-month-old strike.

Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union downed tools on January 23, demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500.

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

Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi set up an inter-governmental task team soon after his appointment in May to assist platinum producers and Amcu resolve the impasse.

On Monday, Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin announced the task team's withdrawal from the talks and thanked Ramatlhodi for his intervention. - Sapa



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