Royal Bafokeng experiences lower output. Picture: Reuters

The NUM will meet shop stewards at Anglo American Platinum after some workers refused to go underground on Wednesday, in response to news that up to 14,000 employees could lose their jobs.

“We are meeting shop stewards tomorrow (Thursday) and on Friday,” National Union of Mineworkers spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said.

On Wednesday the company confirmed that a group of employees at its Khomanani, Thembelani and Tumela mines refused to go underground.

The company considered it an “illegal stoppage” and was holding talks with employees to try and end it.

Operations at other mines in Rustenburg and those in the north of Pilanesburg were normal, company spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said.

Earlier Seshoka said the union would do all it could to reverse the company's plans and urged workers to not go on an unprotected strike.

“That will ensure that the employer will easily dismiss them without any retrenchment packages,” he said.

He later said other unions would not be able to give notice of a sympathy strike, because this was not permitted if the primary strike was unprotected.

A strike at Lonmin Platinum led to 34 deaths during a clash with police in August last year. The industrial action then spread across the platinum and gold sector.

At one point 12,000 Amplats employees were fired, then rehired after lengthy negotiations.

According to a statement, Amplats proposes to split its Rustenburg operations into three mines, with aligned processing operations; divest the Union mines at the right time; and deliver R3.8 billion of annual benefits by 2015, through efficiency and cost reduction initiatives, including annual savings of R390 million from optimising its overhead structure.

It also plans to provide a comprehensive package of support to its employees and communities in Rustenburg and the “labour-sending areas”, and create at least 14,000 new jobs, to balance the number of jobs that may be affected by the restructuring.

This was in response to its revised expectations for platinum demand growth and a number of structural changes that had eroded profitability in recent years, it said.

These included capital intensity, mine depths, ore grades, higher-than-inflation unit cost increases, changes in jewellery demand, and increasing secondary supply of platinum.

“As a result of the proposed changes to the business, a total of up to 14,000 jobs may be affected, 13,000 of which will be in the Rustenburg area.”

The Amplats announcement came after Harmony Gold said it was suspending operations at its Kusasalethu mine in Carletonville to review operations after several illegal strikes.

North West police spokesman Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said that there had been no situation that had required police attention around Rustenburg's mines on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration said on Wednesday it would help in processes related to Amplats' announcement.

“(We have) received the referral form from the parties to facilitate the process. We are setting it down to process this week.”

The United Association of SA union had asked Amplats to withdraw its notice, which was turned down, so the CCMA was called upon.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union said it would brief the media on Thursday about the Amplats notice. - Sapa