CCMA to facilitate in Amplats process

2013-01-16 13:39

Johannesburg  - The CCMA is to help in processes related to the announcement by Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS] that it may have to retrench up to 14 000 employees.

"[We have] received the referral form from the parties to facilitate the process. We are setting it down to process this week," the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration said on Wednesday.

"At this stage there is no further information available."

On Tuesday Amplats announced that it had to restructure and that up to 14 000 people could be retrenched, or retrained in other fields.

In response, workers at some Amplats mines refused to go underground on Wednesday, as unions scrambled to their defence.

"The bottom line from us is that we will resist the retrenchment of [the] 14 000 [workers] with everything in our power," Congress of SA Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said in an interview on SAfm.

Vavi, whose federation includes the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), said it was wrong that every time profit margins were threatened, companies turned to retrenchments without looking at other ways out of the situation.

United Association of South Africa (Uasa) spokesperson Franz Stehring said workers and unions were told at the same time, which was not the normal way this was done.

After the announcement was made at the shafts at 8am on Tuesday, workers had to sign letters that a Section 189 process had started, giving the company 60 days to consult with unions over its plans.

"There was no time to prepare members," said Stehring.

Stehring said the first thing it did was to ask the company to retract the S189 notice, which the company refused to do.

So Uasa had agreed with the company to apply to the CCMA for facilitation, and the CCMA would appoint a commissioner to deal with the process.

NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said the workers' immediate response was to not go underground on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

"We are already arranging meetings in a bid to save these jobs, to get them to reverse (the decision)."

But NUM wanted workers to not be emotional and to not go on unprotected strikes.

"That will ensure that the employer will easily dismiss them without any retrenchment packages," he said.

Stehring said: "All (Amplats) mines are standing. Even those (Amplats) mines that are not affected."

Amplats spokesperson Mpumi Sithole said: "Anglo American Platinum confirms that a group of its employees at its Khomanani, Thembelani and Tumela mines have refused to go underground this morning and are engaged in an illegal work stoppage.

"Management is currently engaging with the employees to encourage them to proceed underground. Operations at other Rustenburg and the north of Pilanesburg mines are normal."