Amplats workers waiting

2012-10-31 17:02

Johannesburg - Almost 2000 fired mineworkers were awaiting news at Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS] (Amplats) mines in Rustenburg on Wednesday after a reinstatement proposal faltered.

North West police spokesperson, Warrant Officer Sam Tselanyane, said people were gathered at a stadium near Amplats' Khusaleka mine and that there had been no problems.

Uasa spokesperson Franz Stehring said there were moves earlier on Wednesday to get all the parties back to the negotiating table, with a view to the company making a more substantial offer to workers, to try and get them back.

Uasa was trying to help facilitate this to avoid a stalemate and possible retrenchments, he said.

Gaddafi Mdoda, who is part of a committee representing striking workers disgruntled with their unions, said marches were not planned for Tuesday.

Amplats did not respond to requests for comments for most of Tuesday, then said it would issue a statement on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, 13 protesters were arrested and an attempted murder charge was laid against a mine security guard after a protester was shot in a day of clashes between protesters and security forces.

The wounded man was taken to hospital. A policeman was also treated after a stone hit him in the face, said Tselanyane.

On Saturday, Amplats said it had held discussions with recognised unions the National Union of Mineworkers, Uasa, Solidarity and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA, and representatives of the strike committee on an offer to reinstate 12,000 fired workers.

In a statement, it said the offer to return to work by Tuesday October 30 had been "accepted by all the worker representatives, the recognised unions and the Workers' Committee and they have committed to communicate the offer to their members today [October 27]".

Mdoda said this was not what had happened.

There had been a meeting where the proposal was made by the company and representatives had left to discuss it with the workers.

"Before we reached Rustenburg town, people were angry about why we have done this thing without consulting them, because the radio was saying this and this," said Mdoda.

"It seems like they were saying we, as the committee, had agreed with unions and management without their consent. It looks like a betrayal, though we did not agree on anything."

Workers wanted to have a choice and to be able to debate and decide on what was on the table, he said.

The Amplats miners have been caught up in a wave of strikes in the platinum and gold sector over the last 10 weeks, which saw protesters publicly criticising established unions and demanding salaries to an average of R12,500 per month.

Stehring said that ideally, the solution for the future would be to have a commodity-specific bargaining council for platinum at the Chamber of Mines, regulated by the Labour Relations Act.

"This would bring far more benefits and stability to the industry," he said.

An increase that Impala Platinum gave workers has been cited as one of the reasons for discontent along the platinum belt, as workers at other companies did not get such an increase.

He said currently parties were in discussions at the chamber regarding a collective bargaining workshop and on Thursday there would be report backs from all the teams, and a decision would be taken.

If accepted, companies in the platinum sector would all pay workers the same basic pay, for the same grades, for example.

Depending on whether they are the "rich cousins" or if they are facing difficulties, they could formally apply for exemptions from the pay agreements and have a "house agreement" for that specific mine.

This way they cannot make extraordinary pay adjustments without discussing it at council level.

It does not stop a mining house from paying employees extra during a good period, but the mining house would have to go through that process first.

Another benefit is that a start-up union could immediately be referred by a company to the proposed statutory bargaining council for representation at the company, and get declared as belonging to the bargaining council.

  • strikeback.strikeback - 2012-10-31 17:19

    What is the use of dismissal if it is not final. It is like executing someone and then agree to a fair trial. Make it final!

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