Steven Tau
2 minute read
26 Mar 2014
8:00 am

Platinum strike has cost R10bn

Steven Tau

The extended strike on the platinum belt is unprecedented and has reached the stage where some of its impact is becoming irreparable, mine bosses said yesterday.

FILE PICTURE: A striking miner holds a cardboard box on his head with text reading "12,500 Rands" as striking miners chant slogans while marching to Wonderkop Stadium near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana on January 23, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER JOE

In a joint statement, CEOs Chris Griffith, Terence Goodlace and Ben Magara said these impacts were also felt by employees, local businesses, suppliers and communities, and not just the companies.

“The financial cost, now close to R10 billion in revenue lost and around R4.4 billion in earnings lost to employees, does not tell the full story,” the statement said.

“Mines and shafts are becoming unviable, people are hungry, children are not going to school, businesses are closing and crime in the platinum belt is increasing.”

Thousands of mineworkers affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) downed tools on January 23, demanding a monthly wage of R12 500. Last week, Amcu made it clear that the strike will continue until workers’ demands are met.

The union has already started a series of protest marches to the head offices of the platinum producers.

Their first stop was Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), and plans for a second similar demonstration to Impala Platinum (Implats) in Illovo tomorrow are afoot.

Commenting on Amcu’s revised R12 500 wage demand, to be phased in over the next four years, platinum producers said the massive structural shift the union appears to be seeking has consequences.

The employers said workers have told them that they want to go back to work.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said the strike had gone on too long. “Workers on strike are about to lose a third months’ pay in one year and this means the debts of those workers will be three months in arrears, prompting creditors to hand workers over for debt collection or repossession,” Cosatu’s provincial secretary Solly Phetoe said.

“While Cosatu supports the call for a living wage and demands that workers must be taken out of poverty, we believe it is irresponsible to take workers on such a long strike where there is no prospect of achieving the demands.”

Trade union Solidarity has sent a letter to the four largest commercial banks requesting they show understanding for the financial difficulties non-striking employees find themselves in.

“Although non-striking employees are still receiving their basic salaries, they have forfeited all regular production bonuses since operations at the mines have come to a standstill,” Solidarity spokesperson Johan Kruger said.

A large portion of the compensation earned by most platinum sector workers is from monthly production bonuses.

“Solidarity is appealing to the banks and other creditors of non-striking platinum mineworkers in the Rustenburg area to bear in mind that the financial situation these workers find themselves in is not of their doing.”