South Africa’s AMCU union said it would meet [DATA AMS:Anglo American Platinum’s] CEO on Thursday to discuss the sale of the firm’s Rustenburg assets where the union led a record five-month wage strike last year.
Amplats, the world’s top producer of the white metal, has said it plans to focus on its more mechanised mines and sell its labour-intensive mines, including the Rustenburg and Union mines after the strike further damaged their viability.
“I will be meeting with the CEO this afternoon because we are worried,” Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the hardline Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) told reporters at a briefing.
“They are very quiet and we have made our position clear as AMCU that we need to know who wants to buy those assets.”
The Amplats mines’ profitability were dealt a blow when unions won pay increases of up to 20 per cent following the strike. The work stoppage also affected production at Amplats rivals Impala Platinum and Lonmin.
“Workers cannot be treated as piece of equipment… workers must have a say in these assets at the end of the day,” Mathunjwa said.
AMCU gained popularity after the platinum belt strike and snatched members off the once unrivalled National Union of Mineworkers, sparking a wave of violence in a bloody turf war.
GOLD WAGE TALKS
The union has also expanded into the gold and coal sectors where two-year wage agreements will expire in end-June.
Wage talks are expected to be bruising with NUM, which represents 57 per cent of workers in the gold sector, saying it could demand 100 per cent increases.
Gold companies, including [DATA SGL:Sibanye Gold], [DATA ANG:AngloGold Ashanti] and [DATA HAR:Harmony Gold] are expected to be in discussions with unions over the new wages. The sector is faced with thinning returns, low prices and high operating costs.
Mathunjwa said AMCU would submit its members’ wage demands in mid-April.
“I don’t expect anything good (from the negotiations) because workers are being treated as slaves, it’s a slave and master, so we have to cut that chain,” Mathunjwa said.