Lonmin: We work with all unions

The CEO says it’s in the best interest of both labour and the company itself to deal with all parties.

FILE: Lonmin workers marching for better wages in September 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Lonmin CEO Ben Magara on Monday says his company is doing its best to work with all unions at its platinum operations in South Africa.

Earlier this year, the company signed a controversial majority recognition deal with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was the previous majority union.

The United Association of South Africa (Uasa) and Solidarity are also minority unions at Lonmin's operations.

Magara said the company had to sign the agreement with Amcu because in total, 80 percent of low-level workers and 66 percent of all Lonmin staff were part of the union.

But Magara says it's in the best interest of both labour and the company itself to deal with all parties.

"We are clear that now we are engaging with active minorities because it is important to Lonmin that all employees are happy."

The Zimbabwean, who was appointed in July, says he's working hard to improve relations with all workers.

"If we grow the pie a bit more, we will all share on it," he says, adding that he's been conducting personal visits and talks with miners and their families.

He says everybody is wishing the company success.


Earlier on Monday, the company released positive results.

It returned to an annual profit after suffering losses following major strikes last year, including at its Marikana mine where 44 were killed during an extended wildcat strike.

Lonmin's finances were left so battered it had to tap shareholders for cash and initially struggled to revive production.

But on Monday, the world's third-largest primary platinum producer announced that its production, sales of platinum and efforts to contain cost increases exceeded its own targets, helping beat forecasts.

Lonmin's pre-tax profit rose to $140 million for the year to the end of September, compared with a loss of $698 million a year ago and well above analysts' consensus forecast of $83.9 million.

After Amcu declared a wage dispute with the company last month, the risk of further strike action increased again.

Magara says he believes more strikes can be prevented.

He described negotiations as "tough" and potentially lengthy.

Amcu demanded Lonmin more than double the wages of entry-level platinum miners, an increase most analysts argue is unsustainable, given the lacklustre platinum price, high costs and poor short-term prospects for demand.

"We are hoping to strike a balance, with the right economic realities factored in," Magara says.