Amcu strike costs soar

The strike in the platinum sector is on the eve of its 12th week with no end in sight.

FILE: Thousands of Amcu mineworkers marched to Lonmin’s headquarters in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, on 3 April 2014. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - While there have been reports that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union ( Amcu) has resumed meetings with platinum bosses this week, the cost of the strike now stands at R12 billion to companies and nearly R6 billion lost in wages by workers.

Amcu's strike for a basic salary of R12,500 is on the eve of its twelfth week with no end in sight after the union launched a special fund to sustain its members.

The union has also confirmed it has sent most of its members back to their homes in the Eastern Cape and Lesotho for the Easter weekend as the stay-away begins to take its toll on the miners' families.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) says it cannot provide specifics about which discussions are currently being held but can confirm the engagements are ongoing.

On Tuesday Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa announced R1 million had already been deposited into the strike fund and more money was expected from international donors sympathetic to the union's cause.

Amcu and mines bosses remain separated by about 20 percent in their demand and offer, with some employers saying job losses were now imminent due to the damage caused by the strike.

But Mathunjwa has warned that if any shafts are closed the union will embark on solidarity action which could cripple the industry beyond recovery.

Meanwhile, Anglo Platinum (Amplats) says there's been an increase in the number of employees defaulting on medication for chronic diseases since the wage strike started on the platinum belt.

This week Lonmin announced that about 1,000 workers have not been receiving ARV medication for HIV treatment and Amplats says workers with chronic TB have also been affected.

Amplats spokesperson Mpumi Sithole says, "We undertook an internal communication campaign urging our employees to use the health facilities and mobile clinic facilities available to them."