230114 Striking workers leave the wonderkop stadium.Photo SUPPLIED
230114 Striking workers leave the wonderkop stadium.Photo SUPPLIED

Amcu to meet minister, mining firms

By Dineo Faku And Sapa Time of article published Jan 24, 2014

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Thousands of Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) members gathered at the Wonderkop Stadium in Marikana yesterday to mark the first day of the wage strike that has halted production at the world’s three biggest platinum companies.

The strike, involving 80 000 workers in the platinum belt, is expected to continue today as Amcu demands a minimum salary of R12 500 a month.

The union’s planned strike in the gold sector was suspended pending the Labour Court’s decision on an urgent interdict by the Chamber of Mines.

Sibanye Gold reported two incidents of sabotage at its Driefontein mine yesterday.

“We have suspended crews in the affected areas pending the outcome of further investigations,” the gold mining company said.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa told members to refrain from violence, Sapa reported. “We are looking for a better life. No one is going to be killed. We must be disciplined.”.

Mathunjwa said he did not want a repeat of the Marikana shooting on August 16, 2012, that left 34 people dead.

Earlier, some marchers had carried sticks and sjamboks into the stadium despite the new law which prohibits the carrying of dangerous weapons to protests and public gatherings.

“The police will engage Amcu to ensure that those that are in violation are identified, arrested and charged accordingly,” SAPS North West spokesman Colonel Sabata Mokgwabone said.

Amcu’s national treasurer, Jimmy Gama, rejected reports that union members were displaying weapons.

All eyes will be on today’s government-mediated talks between Amcu and platinum bosses, to be led by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, in a bid to end the strike.

Mathunjwa said the union would be part of the talks that were tentatively set for today, according to Sapa.

Musi Zondi, the spokesman for Oliphant, confirmed that the minister would meet with Amcu and platinum mine bosses this morning at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration offices to start mediation.

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin – which account for about 80 percent of world platinum production – said there was low worker attendance yesterday.

Lonmin said it was likely to lose 3 100 platinum ounces a day during the strike.

Implats, which had cancelled its night shift on Wednesday in anticipation of the strike, said 10 percent of employees had reported for duty.

Amplats shares rose 1.85 percent to close at R440 on the JSE yesterday, while Implats gained 2.08 percent to R128.47 and Lonmin increased 0.62 to R3.23.

Peter Major, an analyst at Cadiz Corporate Solutions, said: “All the fundamentals at this time point to Amcu settling peacefully – and quickly – along the lines of Northam Platinum’s agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers [NUM].”

Major was referring to the wage deal reached last week between the NUM and Northam for increases of between 8.5 percent and 9.5 percent at the company’s Zondereinde mine. This followed a strike lasting more than two months.

“The judge’s postponed ruling on the gold strike was a big positive for ‘everyone’ – especially Amcu – and South Africa,” Major added.

Among gold firms, Harmony Gold dropped 3.34 percent to R29.85 and AngloGold Ashanti fell 1.48 percent to R144.48, while Sibanye Gold rose 1.18 percent to R14.58.

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