Amcu: Drastic action needed to avoid 'jobs bloodbath'

The mining union has raised concerns about the 20,000 jobs that have been put at risk in the past few weeks.

FILE: Amcu's Joseph Mathunjwa speaks during a media briefing. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) says drastic action is needed to avert a so-called jobs bloodbath in the mining sector.

The union has raised concerns about the 20,000 jobs that have been put at risk in the past few weeks, emphasising that the unemployment rate is at an all-time high and further retrenchments in mining are compounding on an already bleak economic climate.

AngloGold Ashanti and Sibanye Gold are currently in the process of retrenching thousands of workers.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa says that they are planning to protest over the job cuts to create awareness.

“We are calling on stakeholders to intervene where necessary so that a solution can be created to prevent this job bloodbath.”

Mathunjwa adds the union is trying to come up with alternatives to save jobs.

“While Amcu is actively engaging in this retrenchment process, it also referred a protest action notice.”

SA UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

The country’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 27.7% of the labour force in the second three months of this year, with the absolute number of unemployed down slightly to 6.177 million from 6.214 million, data from the statistics office showed.

South Africa has sunk into recession and had its credit rating downgraded to junk by two of the three main credit rating agencies. In July Stats SA said nearly a fourth of all households are in poverty.

Statistician General Pali Lehohla said the real economy, which includes mining and manufacturing, was not creating enough employment.

"We are in a very precarious position as South Africa in as far as exiting poverty. The type of strategy that can make us exit poverty is when people are working," Lehohla said.

Although South Africa's economy contracted for a second successive quarter in March, economists expect positive growth in 2017, but warn that political turmoil and regulatory uncertainty will continue to hamper investor sentiment.

Chief economist for Africa at Standard Charted, Razia Khan, said agriculture and mining were the only sectors that grew meaningfully in the first quarter of this year but actually experienced job losses in the second quarter.

"With a significant uplift to growth performance unlikely to be on the horizon just yet, there is little to suggest a meaningful pick-up in job creation for some time," she said.

RAMAPHOSA NOT WELCOME AT MARIKANA COMMEMORATION

Meanwhile, Mathunjwa says those who lost their loved ones in the Marikana massacre do not want deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to be part of next week's commemoration event.

Wednesday will mark exactly five years since the mass shooting at Lonmin Platinum Mine, where 34 striking miners were gunned down by police.

Ramaphosa has been heavily criticised for calling on police to take “concomitant action” against the protesters.

Mathunjwa says he met with the Marikana widows on Wednesday and they did not mince their words.

“We don’t want Cyril Ramaphosa here. They said we must convey that he is not wanted.”

In 2012, after 10 people had been killed during violent protests in Marikana, Ramaphosa who was a Lonmin shareholder at the time, sent an e-mail to the Police Minister and others calling for concomitant action.

During the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, Ramaphosa explained that several people were killed and he, therefore, felt duty bound to try and help by communicating a message to the Police Minister.

Additional reporting by Reuters & Gia Nicolaides.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)