Amcu warns of industrial action at Implats over job cuts
The 13,400 jobs on the line over two years is steeper than plans by miner Sibanye-Stillwater to cut 12,600 over three years at acquisition target Lonmin.
JOHANNESBURG - The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) will embark on an unspecified industrial action at miner Impala Platinum if talks with the company over its plans to cut a third of its workforce fail to stem the lay-offs, the union’s president said on Tuesday.
Joseph Mathunjwa, who in the past has led crippling strikes in the platinum sector, was speaking to journalists about Implats’ announcement last week about a blueprint to cut over 13,000 jobs at its Rustenburg operations as it seeks to restore profits.
The number of platinum miners employed in South Africa, the world’s largest producer of the precious metal, has fallen from a peak of almost 200,000 in 2008 to 175,000 in the face of depressed prices and soaring costs, fuelling labour and social unrest.
Job cuts are politically sensitive in the country and Mines Minister Gwede Mantashe, a gruff former trade unionist, called Implats’ announcement “a clear example of a company that is careless. Their reckless actions add injury to insult”.
Mantashe urged Implats in a statement “to reconsider its actions” but there seems little the government can do, with clear legal framework companies can follow before they embark on large-scale staff cuts, which includes consultations with unions.
Implats’ planned job cuts are focused on its labour-intensive, conventional Rustenburg operations, where the number of shafts will be reduced to six from 11 with production cut to 520,000 ounces per annum from 750,000 ounces.
The 13,400 jobs on the line over two years, out of a workforce of about 40,000, is steeper than plans by miner Sibanye-Stillwater to cut 12,600 over three years at acquisition target Lonmin.
Most of South Africa’s conventional platinum shafts are losing money, according to the Minerals Council South Africa, while the handful of mechanised ones are profitable.
But an unforgiving geology makes mechanisation challenging in South Africa and is not an option at Rustenburg.