Amcu goes it alone as strike at Amplats begins

Published Sep 27, 2013


Johannesburg - The strike led by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) to challenge the plan by Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) to cut more than 3 300 jobs is expected to start today and to continue indefinitely.

“The strike will continue… until the matter is resolved,” Jimmy Gama, Amcu’s treasurer, said yesterday.

A meeting held yesterday between Amcu leaders and Amplats to try to avert the strike had “no resolution”, he added.

Amcu, which represents 54 percent of Amplats workers, gave the world’s biggest platinum producer a 48-hour strike notice on Monday.

Members of Uasa and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) will go to work as normal. The two unions insist a strike is a last resort and they are seeking legal counsel.

NUM has applied for an urgent interdict to halt the retrenchments and is awaiting a court date for the hearing.

“This is an Amcu strike. We need to exhaust other avenues before we strike. We are taking the matter to court,” NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said yesterday.

Uasa has accused Amplats of turning its back on an agreement with the Department of Mineral Resources to minimise job cuts.

It would approach the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for an interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement the company made earlier this year to determine that the firm was wrong to cut 3 300 jobs, Franz Stehring, the divisional manager for mineral resources at Uasa, said yesterday.

“Morally we will support Amcu if they go on strike. As a union we will wait for the interpretation of the bargaining agreement from a third party,” Stehring said.

Mpumi Sithole, the spokeswoman at Amplats, said the company would continue talks with Amcu through the established channels.

Sithole warned of further job losses as a result of a strike.

“Strikes and work stoppages will result in further losses that will hamper plans for future sustainability. Downsizing the workforce is unfortunate but necessary for the survival of the business and for ensuring a secure future for the remaining 45 000 employees,” she said.

Meanwhile, Amplats made an opening offer of a 6 percent wage increase during yesterday’s talks, according to unions.

Sithole was not immediately available to confirm the wage talks at Amplats yesterday.

Stehring said the offer was “responsible” when compared with the 4 percent opening offer made by gold producers in July.

Amcu said it would declare a dispute at the company. “We are going to declare a dispute,” said Gama, adding that the “offer is very low”.

At Impala Platinum (Implats), unions have been offered a 5 percent wage increase.

Alice Lourens, the spokeswoman at Implats, said “at this stage discussions are ongoing”.

Amplats shares eased by 0.63 percent to end at R440 on the JSE yesterday. - Business Report

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