Amplats miners: We’d rather die

Thousands of dismissed  Anglo Platinum mineworkers have rejected the company’s latest offer of a once-off allowance of R4 500 if they return to work.

According to eNews Channel Africa (eNCA) the workers said they would rather die than accept anything less than their demand for R16 500.

Amplats said on Friday it offered a R4 500 one-off payment and agreed to start wage talks ahead of the expiry of current agreements next year.

The offer would lapse if workers do not show up for work on Monday, Amplats said.

“Nobody is going back to work on Monday. The strike continues,” labour leader Evans Ramokga told Reuters.

“We are not happy with the conditions on the offer like the final warnings and threats of disciplinary actions for dismissed workers.”

The company fired 12 000 workers who went on an illegal work stoppage in Rustenburg.

The cost of the wildcat action, in its second month, is mounting and Amplats said it had lost almost 168 000 ounces in platinum production, worth over $250m at current spot prices.

The one-off allowance would cost the world top producer of the white metal over R2bn.

But the company said it could not afford the wage increase demands being made. Workers want a salary increase of R4 500 per month, which would add about R2.6bn to the company’s wage bill, it said.

South Africa’s gold and platinum sectors have been shaken by months of illegal and often violent strikes which have resulted in the deaths of around 50 people so far this year.

Most of the affected gold operations are back to work but Amplats, a unit of global mining giant Anglo American, is still struggling with crippling strikes at a time when the viability of its operations are being scrutinised.

City Press reports that on Saturday a crowd of more than 4 000 striking workers from Amplats, Xstrata and Limpopo’s Bokone Platinum gathered in sweltering heat at the Olympia Park Stadium in Rustenburg for a rally organised by the strike coordinating committee and the Democratic Left Front (DLF).

The DLF, whose leadership includes social activist Trevor Ngwane, is an umbrella organisation of various social and workers’ organisations including the Democratic Socialist Movement, which has been working with the strike coordinating committee in mobilising workers.

Mametlwe Sebei of the DSM said the aim of the rally was “to mobilise workers and assure them that their struggle was still going ahead”.

Sebei said negotiations with Amplats had deadlocked on Friday night after the company offered the workers a R4 500 taxable “return to work” payment offer if they returned to work tomorrow.

Various speakers representing the strike committees from different regions told workers at the rally they had to bring operations at Amplats to a standstill until demands were met.

A similar rally, organised by trade union federation Cosatu a fortnight ago, was marred by violence when marchers were attacked by a group believed to be opposed to the Cosatu-affiliated National Union
of Mineworkers.

The strike coordinating committee said it had extended an invitation to the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) to the rally.

Numsa representatives were present at the rally, but Amcu’s bosses did not make an appearance.

There were no violent incidents reported at Saturday’s rally and police maintained a strong presence outside the stadium.

 

24news