New Amcu strike cripples Amplats

The Anglo American Platinum mine in Rustenburg, North West. Picture: AFP PHOTOS

The Anglo American Platinum mine in Rustenburg, North West. Picture: AFP PHOTOS

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction workers Union (Amcu) has declared a strike at all Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) mines in Rustenburg, North West.

Anglo American Platinum is the largest primary producer of platinum in the world. A branch manager of Amcu, Evans Ramokga, said he believes it will not be a lengthy strike. “The company will not be able to afford a strike,” he said.

Amcu declared a strike yesterday after the mines announced that 3 300 workers will be retrenched. Bloomberg reports Amplats confirmed the strike was on and that about 80% of workers were absent.

Striking AMCU workers gathered at the Thembelani mine in Rustenburg yesterday, but waited for hours to be addressed by management of the union. The atmosphere was relaxed with workers hiding in the shade.

The president of AMCU, Joseph Mathunjwa was scheduled to speak but later apologised for not being able to. Shop stewards and community leaders then spoke to the hundreds of strikers claiming they won’t budge in negotiations.

According to Mpumi Sithole, the spokesperson of the mines, the number of workers retrenched was reduced significantly from over 14 000 to less than 3 500. “Less than 20% of the workforce is in attendance throughout Rustenburg and the North of the Pilansberg,” she said. Production would be affected, but that sales will not be impacted “at this point”.

According to a leader of Amcu, San Thipe, they will not stop striking until the company agrees to “zero retrenchments”. “We call on all the other workers to join us. We can’t stop you from going to work, but it is in your benefit to join,” he said.

However, labour market analyst from Adcorp, Loane Sharp, said the strike will have a limited effect on the economy and the company. “Strikes are becoming less widely attended. Unions are becoming less relevant,” he said. According to Sharp less than 4% of the nation’s work force participate in strikes.

The CEO of Amplats, Chris Griffith, said the company has no choice. “We have previously stated that the company is under tremendous economic pressure. Strikes and work stoppages will result in further losses that will hamper plans for future stability and threaten the future of our¬†45 000 employees,” he said.




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