Amcu prepares for mass vote on ending strike

Amcu prepares for mass vote on ending strike

2014-04-23 10:30

Johannesburg - Talks aimed at ending a crippling three-month strike in the platinum sector resume on Wednesday, after the world's top producers and union Amcu spent Tuesday haggling over an offer tabled last week by the companies.

The strike is already the longest and most costly for South Africa's mines in living memory but in recent days there has been a renewed drive to break the deadlock after several weeks with no formal direct talks between the two sides.

"The meeting is on," an industry source told Reuters. The talks involve the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) leadership and the chief executives of Anglo American Platinum [JSE:AMS], Impala Platinum [JSE:IMP] and Lonmin [JSE:LON].

No talks are scheduled after Wednesday.

About 70 000 members of the hardline Amcu downed tools 13 weeks ago at the three companies' mines, hitting 40% of global production of the metal used for emissions-capping catalytic converters in cars.

Initially demanding an immediate doubling of the basic wage - net salary before allowances such as housing - for entry-level workers to R12 500 a month, Amcu has since said it would accept annual increases that would reach this goal in three or even four years' time.

The producers' latest offer, made last Thursday, was for wage hikes of up to 10% and other increases which would take the minimum pay package - the basic wage including the allowances - to R12 500 a month by July 2017.

The companies are struggling to maintain margins in the face of steeply rising costs on one hand and depressed prices on the other for platinum and say they cannot afford any more.

Even if Amcu brings an offer to its members, the strike will not end until votes are taken at mass meetings in the platinum belt - a process which may take days.

"We have been told to prepare for a central mass meeting this week; it may take place on Saturday," Siphamandla Makhanya, an Amcu shop steward, told Reuters.

That may involve bringing thousands of miners back from their rural homes in places such as the Eastern Cap. Many have returned to their villages and families to sit the strike out.

Exacerbating the industry's woes is the muted price reaction to the stoppage despite its scale. Traders have bet there are adequate above-ground stocks and demand remains far from robust in major markets such as Europe, where diesel engines which require high platinum content in converters are favoured.

Spot platinum prices are about $1 400.00 an ounce, about 3.5% lower than just before the walk-out which began on January 23.

The sector's viability is also being shaken. Producers have lost R14.4bn to the strike so far, according to an industry website which constantly updates the tally

The talks are being facilitated by the department of labour but there has been little direct political intervention to resolve the dispute, even though it is a headache for President Jacob Zuma and the ruling ANC with a general election looming on May 7.

  • Jacob Majola - 2014-04-23 10:43

    This miners must not give up so easy! Stand on the ground for R12500! The bosses are scared for you, it can be a matter of some time.

      Johan Bester - 2014-04-23 10:48

      Jacob, do you have cognitive issues? The bosses are scare you say? AMCU just played in the hands of the big 3. There will be a lot of job losses to come in the next couple of months from this mining companies. The biggest losers is the strikers and their families. The strikers won't recoup their losses in 18 months.

      Nigel van Ysendyk - 2014-04-23 11:02

      haha, says you sitting in a comfortable office, its easy when you don't feel the pain huh

      Gerald Craig Steyn - 2014-04-23 11:03

      Says Jacob sitting in his lounge in Morningside!

      Jacob Majola - 2014-04-23 11:27

      Yes me I am not a mine worker but i am part of the struggle, this miners are my brothers and I will give them some support of mine!

      Johnathan Mann - 2014-04-23 11:29

      I tend to agree. They are still not getting what the CEO is getting. They should strike far longer. Sink the company and the union, so that we all can get on with our lives. Amplats has been on an appeasing streak the past 3 years.

      marc.hugo.75 - 2014-04-23 11:31

      Platinum stockpiles are so large that it does not matter one way or the other whether they ever go back to work at all. Worldwide reserves of the metal are healthy and in any case, alternatives for its largest application, catalytic converters are available at lower costs. These self-important twits are basically digging up something that is getting less important as each day passes. Note the unchanged platinum price.

      Elaine Carr - 2014-04-23 11:37

      @ Jacob, dude seriously. ONLY in South Africa will UNSKILLED labour strike and DEMAND more money. Not only are they the cause of MILLIONS being lost but also for our economy doing so badly. Their demands are also ridiculous! So I’ll say it again: If you want to earn more money, get educated, get a SKILL/TRADE and stop demanding! There are plenty unemployed people in South Africa that would be more than willing to WORK!

      SunshinyDay - 2014-04-23 11:41

      Are you paying them their salaries while they are busy striking? Giving them food, paying their electricity? Thought not. These miners have now learn what it would be like if they had no job (no jobs = no money). I am sure they will be grateful for anything now.

      Quinten Armstrong - 2014-04-23 12:20

      Jacob the more trouble you and your brothers make the more dispensable you become to the point where it's too much headache to employ people. Instead they will invest in expensive machines to do the work. At the end of the day the world needs platinum and there is money to be made and this will happen with or without you. Your destiny is in your hands so make sure you don't end up with regrets because you will have nobody to blame but yourselves.

      Jacob Majola - 2014-04-23 13:07

      Machines can never totally replace worker. They can be made for use for some things but don't have emotion, common sense and irrational.

      Cattle Class - 2014-04-23 13:18

      Neither do you, Jacob, neither do you!

      Apostle Mandlazi N - 2014-04-23 17:07

      shame on you jacob

      Nokuthula Galela - 2014-04-23 17:53

      awunangqondo Jacob hw many ppl r going 2 loose their jobs explosives companies will loose cz de more miners strike de is no job 4 ppl 2 do explosives n what rbt ppl who work with materials of making explosives u r really mad nx

      TBang Bang - 2014-04-23 23:26

      Jacob, whaf the f@ak did you just say about emotions?????

  • Clayton Hotten Stiemie - 2014-04-23 10:55

    Labour unions must be banned.

  • Martin Wohlfarter - 2014-04-23 11:08

    Amazing how many people have not had economy past "101"... Ja nE... kap aan, continue demanding and see where free markets take you.

  • Daniel Christiaan Cronje - 2014-04-23 11:12

    The communist giving into the capatilist. Lol

  • Cattle Class - 2014-04-23 13:20

    Typical armchair communist comment from Jacob. "They must strike! Show those bosses", he screams at the hungry, unskilled workers, while he sits comfortable, riding the BEE or gravy train.

  • Pun Pun - 2014-04-23 17:16

    The strike must end

  • Babiky Tlale-Mhlafu - 2014-04-23 17:56

    i jst love it wen de strike is trkin on cauz it means no paymnt 4 amcu members excpt mathunjwa le batho ba hae ba on top kikikiki

  • Zahir - 2014-04-23 19:24

    If these miners lose their jobs they will be earning zero as they are unskilled they won't get another job

  • Bonginkosi Qamba - 2014-04-23 20:45

    Stupid prisedent must step down looked amcu now mine ceo mustgive amcu 12.500 that all this not zimbabwe dont be stupid like zuma ceo plz

  • Lesego Keamogetswe - 2014-04-24 07:16

    Good people for all these years we haven't got the situation like this,however unskilled people without proper certificates n so forth are busy looking out for a good payment without good reasons if u may ask...families,businesses etc are to be affected.amcu must rethink about the lifes of mine workers nd make good decision for all people.

  • Lesego Keamogetswe - 2014-04-24 07:16

    Good people for all these years we haven't got the situation like this,however unskilled people without proper certificates n so forth are busy looking out for a good payment without good reasons if u may ask...families,businesses etc are to be affected.amcu must rethink about the lifes of mine workers nd make good decision for all people.

      Anna Jolina Ratshwene - 2014-05-12 11:03

      You are right Lesego, We were slaves but we have eat and drink. The word of God says: Give me enough to eat and drink, too much rich will make us to forget God. We want a better life but not by dying with hunger while we can use our hands to work. We are released from slavery but we are still being used by some people to get their positions and get richer. Now we can see why was there restrictions in the apartheid. We people of North West Province we are going to suffer a lot and become slaves of other nations who don't want to be ruled by Batswana. I wish good people can wake up and see this oncoming terrible situation.

  • Limakatso Malebo - 2014-04-25 18:16

    re kgathetse ke stuborn ba gao re lapile please three month without pay is too much.we want to go to work

  • Marie Diedericks - 2014-04-25 19:40

    I think we must call S Afrika I Wont.I to lacy to work for any thing.But i want every thing.We are not thankfull for wat we gote.No we want more and more.You no wite people did not work or go to pleaces were thy do there trade test, no monny was just fall out or the air on them wyle they was sit and do noting and cry I want. The only way to get wat you want is to work hard and be pepear to dirty your hands.we say in (afrikaans) van sit en staan word niks gedaan.Thank GOD you have a jop. There is lot of S Africans wil be to happy to have a jop.We are so un thank ful.Thats wy we cot nothing.

  • Anna Jolina Ratshwene - 2014-05-12 10:51

    We are sick and tired about this strike. Most children are dropping out of the schools because of this strike. Their dreams are failed for being CEO's Managers so that they can earn better salary. It is better to go back to Egypt where we were slaves rather than dying with hunger. Please if there is someone out there who can offer me a job I will appreciate.

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