Amcu threatens to strike

Joseph Mathunjwa, AMCU president
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The Association of Mining and Construction Union (Amcu) has threatened strike action if a consultation process and alternatives to retrenchments with Impala Platinum fails.

Amcu has strongly condemned the planned retrenchments of 13 000 workers at Impala Platinum mine in Rustenburg, North West.

Speaking to the media in Johannesburg Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa says the platinum sector has already lost 7 800 jobs to date. The union is calling on government to intervene to save jobs in the mining sector.

Mathunjwa says he will bring the sector on its knees if they go on strike. The union says they have already approached minister of Minerals and Resources Gwede Mantashe but have not received any response regarding the matter.

Impala is the world’s second biggest miner and employs more than 40 000 workers. It retrenched over 2000 employees last year.

Amcu says it represents over 70% of the workforce in the platinum industry. It is asking the company to look at alternatives to retrenchments and will continue to monitor and consult.

“In the past two years alone, mining houses have announced a massive 25 707 jobs to be destroyed. Through tough negotiations and many long sessions, we have been able to limit forced retrenchments to 4 892. In 2013, Anglo Platinum announced 14 000 job cuts under former Minister of Mineral Resources, Ms Susan Shabangu. Amcu had to strike for a month to reduce that number to 3000, which ended up being voluntary retrenchment and early retirement. Many of them were recalled later,” says Mathunjwa.

Amcu has also threatened to apply for secondary strike action in other Impala mines across the country.

“You’ve never heard of Amcu going on a wild cat strike we use the same processes of labour relations. We will invite other comrades to assist us and so if you attack the workers at Impala you are not only attacking those workers you are attacking our comrades in KZN, in Limpopo and all corners of the country. And there is a negative knock on effect to the society at large. So it’s time for them to be accountable, if they are not being taught we will teach them,” says Mathunjwa.

The union wants Impala to look at internal transfers of employees, a moratorium on contractors performing core mining work as well as Voluntary Separation Packages (VSPs)- before they decide to retrench. Amcu says the planned job cuts could affect as many as 130 000 people, and probably millions more indirectly.

Mathunjwa says Amcu will participate in the retrenchment consultations at Impala, and they will do their best to save as many jobs as possible.

“We will spare no resource in our struggle to protect the livelihoods of mineworkers. We hope that the company will come to this consultation process with a view of following the legal test of joint consensus seeking process and not being positional in engaging this matter.”

Amcu has criticised government for failing to take a lead on job losses in the mining sector.

Amcu says it calls upon the State to review all their trade and industrial policies, “The focus should be to develop our own industry and protect our own economy. This will save jobs and create new jobs. Workers are now carrying the responsibilities for poor policy and regulatory choices.”

Impala Platinum last week said it was retrenching due to the closing down of some of its shafts, as a result of low production levels and decreasing metal prices, particularly platinum. Economists have warned further retrenchments will reduce the buying power of the consumer and reduce consumer confidence, which will affect business.

Job creation is necessary for economic revival. The economy contracted in the first quarter of 2018.

South Africa needs to create 600 000 jobs per year if it wants to reduce unemployment.