A month after the end of the crippling five-month wage strike in the platinum belt, Lonmin has reshuffled its senior management team to rebuild operational performance.

The recent strike was the longest in South Africa’s history and cost Lonmin $322 million (about R3.4 billion) in the first half of the year as a result of idle production, security costs and services to contractors.

Lonmin is now ramping up production and it expects to return to normal in the first quarter of next year.

The company has to rebuild its image fast, with investors wary about labour and community unrest in recent months.

Lonmin told the market yesterday that it had created a chief operating officer post to replace the positions of executive vice-president mining and of executive vice-president processing.

Johan Lesley Viljoen was the newly appointed chief operating officer who would focus on the mining and processing divisions, “helping better align those areas of the business”, the company said yesterday.

Mark Munroe, executive vice-president for mining, and executive vice-president for processing Natascha Viljoen have both resigned.

It was not expected that both Munroe and Viljoen would leave after they led operations when Lonmin ramped up to full production ahead of schedule after the strike in 2012. Forty-four people were killed during the wildcat strike at Lonmin’s Marikana operations in August 2012.

The restructuring of the executive means that Lonmin is likely to announce the streamlining of its operations, signalling that job cuts are imminent.

Commenting on the new chief operating officer post, Lonmin chief executive Ben Magara said: “Johan has useful insights in the changing mining industry labour landscape.”

Clothing and textiles

There is dissatisfaction in the clothing and textile manufacturing sector, which, if not addressed, could bring the industry to its knees.

The list includes wage increases, an improved pension funds, trainee programmes and compliance by employers with employment regulations.

Chris Gina, the general secretary of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union, said that while the sector was improving, there were a few things that employers still needed to get right.

Gina said this ahead of a crucial meeting between the union and employers to be held today in Cape Town. He said the meeting was the last resort before the union conducted a ballot on whether to strike.

At the centre of the dispute is a demand for a wage increase of 9 percent as well as other issues, including improved pension funds, better training programmes and the upgrading of old machines to meet productivity demands.

“Most of the textile and clothing manufacturing workers retire from work with very few retirement benefits, only to become a burden to government,” he said.

Machines in some of the factories are outdated and need to be improved for companies to compete globally.

Asked if the industry could afford all these demands, Gina said: “Yes, especially since government, through the Industrial Development Corporation, has injected almost R2 billion to revitalise the sector.”

Workers were not asking for a double-digit increase because they understood that the sector was not yet fully resuscitated.

This was while about 3 000 workers in the cotton sector were on strike over a 10 percent wage increase. Employers are offering 7.75 percent.

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Dineo Faku and Nompumelelo Magwaza.