Amplats strike to continue

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iol nws nvo 10 amplats REUTERS File photo: Strikers chants slogans outside the Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) mines near Rustenburg.

Rustenburg - Striking mineworkers at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) would not return to work, a miners' representative said in Rustenburg on Saturday.

“The workers decided they won't go back to work. There are conditions that are unfavourable,” Evans Ramokga said.

“The strike is still on.”

Hundreds of striking workers were gathered at a mass rally at the Olympia Park Stadium in Rustenburg on Saturday morning.

The crowd was singing and dancing as police in Nyalas and vans kept watch over proceedings. A police helicopter was circling overhead.

On Friday Amplats management re-opened discussions on miners returning to work.

Amplats said in a statement on Friday: “The outcome of these discussions is that management has revised the initial offer to a once-off allowance of R4500 (gross of tax) to be paid to each qualifying employee.

“ This was comprising a R2000 loyalty or hardship allowance and a R2500 safe start-up allowance to be paid two weeks after employees have returned to work and have commenced actual work.”

The mining company also agreed to re-open wage negotiations early.

However, any agreement reached would only be introduced in July next year, in line with the current wage negotiation cycle. “If the offer is accepted, the understanding is that employees would return to work on Monday, 12 November 2012, after which date the offer will lapse,” Amplats said.

Ramokga said the rally was also to ensure the safety and stability in Rustenburg and to stop violence.

“We are here morning for our comrades who passed away during the strike all over the country.”

He said they were also holding the rally to demand a living wage and better living conditions for all.

The workers said they would not oppose returning to work if their salary demands were met.

“We are looking for money. If they give us what we need, we can go back to work,” said Simon Gqaza, an employee at Amplats for the last three years.

“I need R16,000. If they give me that money that I'm looking for I will go back to work anytime.”

Amplats fired 12,000 workers after they failed to appear for a disciplinary hearing. They had been on a wildcat strike since September 12, demanding to be paid a minimum of R16,000 a month.

The company then made the workers a re-instatement offer, which was not accepted.

Chris Griffith, Amplats chief executive, said the company had previously stated that its operations were under tremendous economic pressure which was being exacerbated by the strike.

“The return to work offer that has been agreed with the unions and the strike committee will require almost R220 million to fund,” he said.

“The workers' current demand of a salary increase of R4500 per month would cost approximately R2.6 billion, an amount that is clearly not affordable in a year when the company is experiencing such economic challenges.”

Griffith said Amplats had gone to great lengths to get workers to return to work but if they did not accept the offer Amplats would have no option but to adhere to the dismissals. - Sapa



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