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Uncertainty over Amplats permit

Sep 21 2012 18:19 Sapa

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Rustenburg - Uncertainty surfaced on Friday on whether striking Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) workers had permission to hold a public meeting at a stadium near Rustenburg.

Worker leader Tebogo Lebeke said the Rustenburg municipality had given the nod for the strikers to meet at Bleskop stadium, but the mine disputed this.

Amplats spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said: "Bleskop Stadium is private and belongs to Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS]... the municipality would not have given approval for a property that does not belong to them."

Lebeke said the permission was obtained on Thursday afternoon.

"The permit allows us to hold a meeting. We are going to assemble at the Bleskop Stadium to update workers."

The workers would get together on Monday to discuss strategy ahead of another round of wage talks with the mine management the next day.

Lebeke said a rally at Bleskop stadium on Wednesday would be used to report to workers on the state of negotiations.

Sithole said the company had put up notices at the stadium that anyone wanting to use the venue needed to apply to Amplats.

"No one applied."

Amplats' workers went on strike last Tuesday demanding a salary increase of R17 000, but were prepared to accept R12 500.

The situation was tense at Sondela, near Amplats' Jabula Shaft, in Rustenburg on Friday.

Roads remained barricaded with stones, and residents burnt down any remaining hawkers' stalls. Most of the stalls were burnt down on Thursday, when residents also blocked the road linking the informal settlement to the mine, and other internal roads with rocks and burning tyres.

Workers said this was to prevent the police from gaining entry to the informal settlement.

They accused the police of shooting randomly when they dispersed mineworkers gathering illegally at the nearby sports field.

Amplats said on Thursday that the strike was illegal and it had given its workers notice that they were required to return to work that day.

"All the company's Rustenburg Process Operations and the Bathopele mine have resumed full production," Sithole said.

"The company continues to be disappointed with the low turnout rate at four of its Rustenburg mines, which are currently reporting less than 20% attendance."

Sithole said a higher police visibility and action had created an environment conducive for workers to return.

"As already stated, our employees have until night-shift today (Thursday), to return to work, failing which legal avenues will be pursued," she said.

She said Amplats' Rustenburg mining operations were already under considerable economic pressure and the illegal strike was making operations even less viable.

Captain Dennis Adriao said police would maintain a high visibility and presence to monitor the wildcat strike situation in the platinum belt.

A strike started at Lonmin's Marikana mine on August 10, and has since spread to other mines.

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lonmin  |  anglo platinum  |  rustenburg  |  mining unrest


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