The never-ending strikes that have cost the world’s three biggest platinum producers [DATA IMP:Impala], [DATA AMS:Amplats] and [DATA LON:Lonmin] over 12 billion rand in revenue are likely to see miners leave the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) as some of its members are reported to be re-joining the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).
(WATCH VIDEO: Platinum sector strikes continue to raise concern)
“Job losses is not only a reality but is what we have experienced. Since this madness that started in 2012 up to December 2013, about 16,000 jobs have been lost and indications are that more jobs will be lost,” said Frans Baleni the NUM general secretary.
The NUM general secretary added that job losses were an inevitable reality due to the mechanisation programme that is set to replace human labour.
“We are concerned about mechanisation that replaces workers. We are keen in the introduction of technology that enhances skills of workers and productivity. We would be happy to engage companies with regards to mechanisation that enhances and up skill workers but we will definitely have problems with mechanisation that replaces workforce,” he added.
Baleni took a swipe at Amcu that the ongoing strike could be politically motivated since South Africa is in an election year. The platinum strikes now in the 12th week could be seen as economic sabotage targeted at the ruling party and the government.
The government through the deployment of the Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has tried to resolve the crisis torn platinum industry’s industrial action but with no success.
The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) also failed to resolve the crisis in March as it saw the two parties (Amcu and companies) negotiating from extreme positions.
The mediation by the CCMA came after a ministerial intervention that summoned involved parties to the negotiating table.
Recently, the leading workers union in the platinum mines, Amcu, launched a fund meant to mobilise money to help struggling miners with transport fares for their Easter holidays starting this Friday.
The workers, now in their 12th week without salaries are struggling to hold on and are reported to have resorted to looking for relief jobs in the mining towns.
Among others, the mining workers are also failing to pay their electricity bills that has seen them losing electricity connections and resorting to firewood for cooking.
There have been reports of extreme cases where some miners on anti-retroviral drugs are failing to get medication due to unpaid medical aid.
BY TRUST MATSILELE