Johannesburg - Lonmin [JSE:LON] management and workers
appeared on Wednesday to be shaping up for a new battle after the strike-hit
mining company said jobs would be cut.
The world's third-largest platinum producer is
scrambling to get back on its feet after a violent six-week strike at its
Marikana mine that crippled production and led it to ask shareholders for $800m
in a rights issue on Tuesday.
It also gave unions notice of a restructuring, with proposed
job losses in its 25 000-strong work force expected to be implemented in early
"We haven't decided how many employees will be
impacted. What we have said is we are freezing our production target at 750 000
ounces for the next two years," Lonmin spokesperson Sue Vey said.
"What we are doing is shaping the business
The company had said earlier the strike would cause it to
miss targets. With production almost halving in the three months to September
30, it has postponed its aim of increasing output to more than 900 000 oz a
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said it would fight
any job cuts.
"Of course, we are in principle opposed to retrenchments.
We will discourage them from going on a restructuring process that would see
any jobs being lost," NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said.
The union hoped to meet management next week, he said.
The timing of the move is delicate as a wildcat strike is
still gripping the nearby Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS] mines at Rustenburg - where
police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at strikers on Tuesday - and Lonmin
workers only having been back at work for a month since their strike.
Emotions are also still high after the police killing of 34
striking Lonmin miners at Marikana on August 16, the bloodiest security
incident since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.
Tens of thousands of gold miners have also only returned to
work in the last two weeks and layoffs at Lonmin could trigger sympathy
Gideon du Plessis of Solidarity trade union
said he was not surprised by the Lonmin notice, but feared middle management
rather than the roc-drillers who led the strikes would bear the brunt of cuts.
"The focus will be on management levels but that means
they are punishing those who did not participate in the strikes," Du
"These innocent people are now casualties."