2 minute read
24 Jun 2014
1:14 pm

Amcu members sing outside Lonmin offices

A handful of Amcu members sang outside Lonmin's offices in Melrose Arch, north of Johannesburg, on Tuesday, where the signing of an agreement to end the five-month platinum mining sector strike is expected to take place.

FILE PICTURE: Members of AMCU march to Implats head office in Illovo, 27 March 2014 to deliver their demands which include an salary increase to R12 500. The five month long strike has since ended. Picture: Neil McCartney

Reporters set up their equipment outside the building in anticipation of an announcement that agreements between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and the platinum producers had been signed.

Passers-by and drivers looked on as union members sang.

“Everyone is excited. At least we are going back to work tomorrow,” Amcu shop steward at Impala Platinum Abram Seaketso said.

On January 23, Amcu members at Lonmin, Impala Platinum, and Anglo American Platinum downed tools, demanding a monthly basic salary of R12,500.

After five months of negotiations, Amcu announced on Monday that the platinum strike was officially over and it would sign wage agreements with the platinum producers.

The union accepted wage settlements on Monday that would increase the basic salary of the lowest-paid worker by R1000 over three years, excluding other benefits, union leader Joseph Mathunjwa told about 20,000 members at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Phokeng, near Rustenburg.

Some workers would receive R12,500 before the end of the agreement, he said.

Workers would receive back pay within seven days of returning to their jobs on Wednesday.

When Mathunjwa asked members whether the union should accept the offer, they chanted “yes, yes”, pointing their fingers upwards.

Mathunjwa said the agreements, which he hailed as a milestone in the history of mineworkers, would run for three years.

A series of talks facilitated by the Commission of Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) failed to resolve the strike after they stalled in March, when the CCMA ruled that the parties were too far apart.

Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi set up an inter-governmental task team last month in an attempt to break the deadlock. On June 9 the task team withdrew from the talks.

The following day Ramatlhodi denied he had abandoned the talks.

“The simple reason behind this is that I strongly believe we have done enough work over the past two weeks… for the parties to take the process forward and continue engaging on their own,” he said at the time.

By Tuesday, the strike had cost the industry R24 billion in lost revenue, while employees had forfeited earnings of around R10.6bn, according to a website set up by the companies, www.platinumwagenegotiations.co.za.