Cosatu and its mining sector affiliate, National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), have vowed to fight the pending retrenchment of 196 workers at Pilanesburg Platinum mine in Moruleng outside Rustenburg in the North West province “tooth and nail”.
Cosatu deputy general secretary Solly Phetoe said mining firms Pilanesburg Platinum Mines (PPM), a subsidiary of Centurion-based Sedibelo Platinum Mines Ltd, together with MCC, its open cast contract mining partner company, gave a Section 189 notice of retrenchments last week.
When approached for comment, the PPM cited the continuing industry pressures and sustained operational losses that had forced it to reduce production volumes and consequently employment to sustainable levels. “This flows from a long period of operational difficulties,” the company said in a statement.
“PPM has notified the Department of Mineral Resources of the implementation of necessitated retrenchment measures at PPM. PPM has initiated consultative processes in terms of section 189 of the Labour Relations Act to engage with employees and their representatives in the prescribed way,” said the company.
The firm’s spokesperson refused to speculate on the number of retrenchees as consultation is ongoing. Cosatu’s Phetoe said the pending retrenchment came despite the fact that PPM and MCC last April signed an agreement, dubbed “Alliance Agreement”, with NUM that stated that no worker would lose a job for the next five years at the mine.
“We will fight these retrenchments to the bitter end,” Phetoe said. He led a protest march of Pilansburg mineworkers on Wednesday to demand that the companies should halt the retrenchments.
He said the Labour Relations Act section 189 talked about a “notice” but did not protect workers from unscrupulous employers who implemented retrenchments with profit-making motives.
He also vowed that Cosatu would mobilise for the amendment of section 189 because it was being abused by many employers.