Amplats job cuts dangerous - ANC

Jan 15 2013 20:15

Striking Amplats mineworkers. (Picture: Lucky Nxumalo/City Press

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Cape Town - The ANC has strongly condemned Anglo Platinum's [JSE:AMS] plans to cut 14 000 jobs as it restructures its strike-hit operations.

The platinum giant wanted to divert its business from South Africa and send the country's mining industry "to the dogs", the ANC said. 

"This decision is cynical and dangerous in the extreme," said ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu in a statement.

"The ANC condemns the action taken by Anglo American Platinum Limited who have exploited and then mercilessly created conditions to eliminate 14 000 jobs of which 13 000 are in the Rustenburg area," said spokesperson Jackson Mthembu.

"Amplats actively undermines the strategic plan of the government to create jobs".

Mthembu said the exploitation of workers is a travesty and a disgrace to the mining industry.

"Our country cannot continue to be the hosts of callous extraction of minerals for the sole benefit of profits for external investors with limited beneficiation to our own communities and in particular the complete disregard for the plight of workers", said Mthembu.

The ANC called on the Minister of Minerals and Energy Susan Shabangu to enter into an urgent meeting with mines wanting to shut unsustainable shafts.

Govt shocked by jobs bloodbath

Shabangu said that the decision by Amplats came as a shock and a surprise. 

"It is regrettable that the company consulted with [my] department less than seven days ago despite the major secio-economic ramifications of its decision," Shabangu told reporters in Pretoria.

She said miners and their families would be hugely affected by retrenchments as there tended to be minimal work in and around Rustenburg, which will bear the brunt of the job cuts. 

Shabangu said her department was approached by Amplats last year to say it was facing problems and considered restructuring but the company was told to discuss any such plans with the department first.

However, the company waited until seven days ago to do so, she said.

Amplats overhaul not a reprisal

"This is not a reprisal, for example, against the strikes at the end of last year. This process started at the beginning of 2012 and it was to address the fundamental and structural changes to our businesses that have made our operations unprofitable," Anglo Platinum CEO Chris Griffith said on a conference call.

"This is not a knee-jerk reaction to unions, this is not a short-term response to an economy that may improve in a month or two's time. The company has to take these drastic and significant actions to save the company and the employment of an additional 45 000 people."

Unions react

Labour reaction was swift, with an Amplats labour leader threatening a strike across its South African operations if the indefinite closures, when they would be put on "care and maintenance", go ahead.

"If they put any shaft on care and maintenance, all of the operations will go on strike. Nothing like this will be allowed," said Evans Ramogka, an Amplats labour leader.

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