Amplats puts retrenchments on hold

The intended retrenchment of 14,000 workers at Amplat's mines is on hold.

Amplats miners at the Komanani shaft have agreed to go back to work while workers Union AMCU negotiates with mine management regarding the possible retrenchment of 14 000 workers. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Retrenchments at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) was on Monday put on the back burner.

The mining giant said it had made a decision to postpone plans to retrench some 14,000 workers for the next few months.

The decision to scale back on operations earlier in January was met with fury from government and fierce resistance from labour, while the company claimed external factors were eating away at its profits.

Wage strikes affected production at the mine greatly during 2012.

Amplats spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said, "The company has made a decision to postpone the continuation of the intention to retrench employees until such time that the consultation has taken place."

More talks will follow over the next two months, after which Amplats will need to make more decisions.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said while it was happy with the mine's decision to temporarily halt retrenchments, the long term goal was yet to be realised.

The union's spokesperson, Lesiba Seshoka, said its "ultimate goal" was to completely scrap the idea of shutting down all four shafts.

"We hope that if we address all the challenges, we should be able to agree that retrenchments are unnecessary at the end of the day [sic]."

MANTASHE STANDS BY COMMENTS

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said he did not regret making comments against Amplats.

Last week, Mantashe said he believed Amplats had an ulterior motive which is to cut 14,000 jobs merely to push up the platinum price.

"What you are doing is reducing supply, and you can have only one objective, that of pushing the price through the roof."

He said he was confident other firms could make a profit with the shafts.

He said South Africa was sitting on top of 80 percent of the world's known platinum reserves.

"If you don't invest, other investors will."

Mantashe said his own pension money had been invested in the platinum sector, and that it was a good investment.

He also said he did not know why Amplats shareholder The Public Investment Corporation was not speaking publicly on the mine's decision.

Meanwhile, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu also added her voice to avoid retrenchments by suggesting that Amplats could lose its mining licence if job cuts went ahead.