Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa speaking at a media briefing in Johannesburg on Thursday about how the union plans to fight job losses in the mining industry. PHOTO: Siphelele Dludla/ANA
JOHANNESBURG - The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu)  blamed a "lack of leadership" for the job cuts in the mining industry, saying that it would fight retrenchments because of the wider consequences for the South African economy. 

This comes as mining companies have recently announced that they would be retrenching about 20,000 workers in the near future.

Sibanye Gold announced last week that it would be cutting 7,400 jobs at Cooke shafts as well as Beatrix West. Bokoni Platinum Mine in Limpopo also announced last month that it would retrench 2,651 employees.

Meanwhile, Anglo Gold Ashanti is in the process of retrenching 8,500 workers on the basis of their operational requirements.

Addressing the media about retrenchments and the state of the economy, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said the union would not be surprised if other companies like Sibanye Platinum, Lonmin and others followed suit.

Mathunjwa said that his union would not be taking these job losses lying down, and would propose measures to force companies to make decisions that do not only favour maximum profit, but also invest in the  country.

"Despite the challenges facing workers in this country, there is a lack of targeted focus from the leadership of the country. People are caught in the political arena with narrow, selfish interests of jostling for power. This often happens through side-shows which captivate society and divert attention from real bread and butter issues," Mathunjwa said. 

"While Amcu is actively engaging in these retrenchment processes, it also referred a protest action notice in terms of section 77 of the Labour Relations Act to the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC). This notice will enable the union to embark on a nationwide strike."

Some of the avoidance measures proposed by Amcu include the unbundling of mining operations into smaller operations with lower overhead costs. 

Mathunjwa said such unbundling could drive real economic transformation in changing ownership patterns and addressing structural injustice by shifting assets to historically disadvantaged South Africans.

"We are calling on all stakeholders, including the department of mineral resources to intervene where necessary so that a concerted solution driven initiative can be triggered to prevent this jobs blood bath," Mathunjwa said.

"The role of the state needs to be further reviewed in its participation in the economy to ensure that national assets such as minerals are not entirely left in the hands of private capital."

 - African News Agency (ANA)