Amplats had set last Tuesday as the deadline for miners to appeal the decision. Photo: Supplied
JOHANNESBURG – The General Industrial Workers Union of South Africa (Giwusa), whose members were dismissed by platinum giant Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) for embarking on an unprotected strike, said that it had approached the Labour Court to have the dismissals reversed.

Giwusa branch secretary at the Mototolo mine in Burgersfort, Limpopo, Teddy Thobakgale, said on Friday that the court hearing would be tomorrow.

“We approached the court to challenge the unfair dismissal of our members,” Thobakgale said. 

The company said last week it had dismissed 643 workers after they embarked on an illegal strike on Sunday, May 12, although Thobakgale said more than 900 employees were axed. He said that appeal talks with the company on Thursday deadlocked. Amplats had set last Tuesday as the deadline for miners to appeal the decision.

“Appealing does not guarantee our members will get their jobs back. Only the courts can make a judgment on the dismissals,” said Thobakgale.

Giwusa members downed tools after blaming Amplats for changing medical aid benefits representing “a unilateral change in employees conditions of service” when it took over the mine from Glencore last November.

“They came with tricks. Under Glencore employees did not contribute a cent towards medical aid of dependants. Under Amplats it is the opposite,” he said.

Amplats on Friday said in fact the transfer of employees from Glencore to Amplats was carried out in accordance with Section 197 of the Labour Relations Act.

Amplats spokesperson Jana Marais said the employees were employed on terms and conditions that were on the whole not less favourable than the terms the employees were employed under by Glencore.

“Glencore provided their in-house medical aid to all Mototolo Mine employees and their immediate family dependants. As part of the Section 197, Anglo American Platinum has honoured all existing conditions of employment, including medical aid, and has offered Anglo American Platinum’s medical aid option, Platinum Health, to all Mototolo Mine employees, including all their dependants on the scheme on the transfer date. Anglo American Platinum has continued to pay for this benefit. No employee or their dependants were worse off in terms of medical aid payment from the company for the family,” Marais said.

Marais also said that the impact on production had been minimal.

“We are working to ensure that Mototolo Mine recommences full production as soon as practically possible,” said Marais. An appeal process was under way.

“We will provide an update on that in due course,” Marais said.

Giwusa is a Germiston-based trade union that was established in 1996. It has 23 000 members across several sectors of the economy.

The company said last week that the strike was disappointing.