8 October 2012

South Africa: Platinum Sector Talks Continues

Photo: Werner Beukes/SAPA
File photo: Striking mineworkers carrying knobkerries, sharpened sticks and iron rods. A round of talks between the platinum industry and unions was expected to continue this week to resolve the widespread strike action in the country.

Johannesburg — A round of talks between the platinum industry and unions was expected to continue this week.

Platinum bosses and unions will meet at the Chamber of Mines on Monday for negotiations.

It was hope the talks would result in an agreement which would resolve the strikes by the end of the month.

The appeals for 12,000 workers fired from Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) for participating in the unprotected strike, were postponed to Wednesday.

NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said on Saturday that the union had not yet made a decision on whether to appeal on its members' behalf.

First, it wanted to see what the outcome of the Chamber of mines meeting would be.

Amplats announced it had fired 12,000 striking workers on Friday.

"Disciplinary hearings for striking Rustenburg mine employees have been completed and affected employees will be informed of the outcome of the hearings today," it said in a statement.

Employees would have three working days to appeal..

There were indications on Friday that some strikes could soon be resolved.

Petra Kimberley Diamond Mine and Anglo Gold Ashanti were waiting to see whether striking workers would return to work.

Petra spokesman Gert Klopper said operations were expected to normalise with the night shift on Sunday after an agreement was reached on Friday.

He said the contents of the agreement would not be disclosed to the media as "we regard those as internal matters".

Workers at Petra's Kimberley mine embarked on an underground sit-in on Tuesday, which halted operations.

Workers at the company's mine near Koffiefontein, in the southern Free State, also joined the strike, but Friday's agreement covered all Petra mines.

There was also no clear indication of whether striking mineworkers at Anglo Gold Ashanti's Mponeng mine would return to work as requested, spokesman Alan Fine said.

"We will only be able to see when the night shift is scheduled to start work," spokesman Alan Fine said.

Workers downed tools on September 25, demanding monthly salaries of R18,500.

At Kumba Iron Ore's Sishen mine about 300 wildcat strikers continued with a sit-in, demanding an increase of R15,000 for all staff, spokesman Gert Schoeman said.

Kumba suspended production at Sishen Mine on Thursday due to the strikers blocking access to the pit, creating an unsafe environment for mining operations.

Gold One and Gold Fields remained quiet on Sunday.

Spokesman Grant Stuart said there had been no violence over the weekend, after the suspension of around 1400 striking workers.

The company initially intended holding disciplinary hearings over participation in the unprotected strike on Friday, but postponed the hearings to Monday at the request of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Gold Fields spokesman Sven Lunsche said all the company's mines were quiet.

"The night shift starts at 9pm but we don't expect workers to show up.

We are also not sure if they will return to the hostels."

Workers embarked on an illegal strike last month at the Gold Fields KDC West mine in Carletonville and Beatrix mines, demanding a monthly pay of R12,500 after deductions.

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InFocus

Why is There Unrest in South Africa's Mining Industry?

File photo: Striking mineworkers carrying knobkerries, sharpened sticks and iron rods. A round of talks between the platinum industry and unions was expected to continue this week to resolve the widespread strike action in the country.

As strike action ripples through the diamond, iron, chrome, platinum and gold mining sectors, it is not purely about wages but shows the level of unhappiness with working and ... Read more »