Num, Shabangu to address concerns

2012-06-17 14:59

Johannesburg - The National Union of Mineworkers (Num) will take its concerns about potential job losses to the government at a meeting with Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu tomorrow.

The trade union is worried that job cuts may affect its 300 000-strong membership as the platinum sector is set to lose jobs in the next two quarters.

This is due to the slow uptake of commodities in both Europe and China, and expected further plunges in the price of these commodities.

Platinum, for example, was this week trading at a 52-week low of $1 363.4 (R11 430) an ounce, down from boom-time prices of $2 000 in 2008.

In November 2010, the price rallied at $1 800.

“We will raise the issue of job losses with the minister,” said Num president Senzeni Zokwana at a discussion forum in Johannesburg this week.

“With unemployment already high in this country, we cannot afford any more job losses. We have to find a way of planning in the industry that will protect workers and jobs.”

This week, the minister announced that she would meet with mining industry stakeholders to examine options available to the battered industry.

The industry is already reeling from weak demand, bruising industrial action and rising costs.

Shabangu gathers the industry tomorrow following statistics that emerged from the February mining indaba held in Cape Town.

They indicated that South Africa remained the richest nation in terms of mineral reserves.

But mining contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product is at the lowest it has been in 51 years and actual production hit a 50-year low in February.

“We are about to see a lot of suffering,” said Zokwana, adding: “Solutions to the problem could lie in finding innovative ways in which both the government and labour share the pain.”

Speaking to members of the media and a group of analysts this week, Frans Baleni, Num general secretary, said: “We have noted the decline in the price of platinum and are concerned that the bulk of job losses will be in the platinum industry.

“This will have a negative impact on developmental projects in the mining industry.”

Baleni said his trade union held the position that better planning by mining companies during boom times would have prevented the looming job losses.

HeBaleni added that trouble in the platinum industry would affect other sectors like the automobile industry.