7 June 2014

South Africa: Minerals Will Not Intervene Indefinitely in Mining Strike - Minister

The Department of Mineral Resources will not intervene indefinitely in the ongoing mining strike in the platinum belt, Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said on Saturday.

"Monday will be the last meeting with parties. I'm making a humble appeal to all parties involved to assist us to move this process forward. We've done enough work, we can't mediate indefinitely.

"At some point we must find a solution, workers have gone almost five months with no work. The situation is untenable," said the minister at a media briefing held at the Saint George Hotel in Irene, Pretoria.

The minister appealed to the parties involved namely the labour union, Amcu, and the mining companies Lonmin, Anglo Platinum and Impala Platinum to find a solution to the strike.

Monday's meeting will be the last one that the newly appointed minister, who was sworn in 26 May, will preside over as the department will pull out of negotiations after Monday.

"I think we've done enough work for them to conclude on a positive note on Monday. Then the institutions that have been set up to deal with these matters can take over. Hopefully we will have a happy Monday or we will have a very sad Monday if the parties decide not to walk the last mile," explained the minister.

The minster noted that miners were the least paid in the country even though they are the backbone of the economy. He said such social issues as the remuneration and accommodation of mine workers are something that needs attention.

Following his swearing-in, the minster convened the parties to a meeting after which a technical team was set up to resolve the matter. The technical team comprised of officials from National Treasury and the Department of Labour among others met over two days last week to find a solution to the impasse.

While the strike was continuing, the minister has seen commitment to resolving the impasse between all sides.

The minster added that it was not the department's role to intervene in a labour dispute between employers and employees but that this had become necessary as a last resort.

"The work I have been spearheading does not replace other forums and institutions in place to resolve labour disputes.

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