The Association of Construction and Mineworkers Union (Amcu) has not taken the take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum from South Africa’s platinum producers lightly, saying that the union will achieve its demand for a R12 500 basic monthly salary for miners by any means necessary.
On Wednesday, platinum bosses Chris Griffith, Terence Goodlace and Ben Magara hinted that jobs may be on the line if the strike, now in its fifth week, continued much longer. Since the strike began, R4.4 billion has been lost in revenue, while employees wage losses total R1.94 billion. “Prolonged strike action would further exacerbate the current situation and may result in further job losses,” they said in a statement.
The companies say the wage increase of 150% is unaffordable, chastising the union for “negotiating in bad faith” because “it was not possible to negotiate if only one party ever moves and the other party maintains its position.”
Amcu remains resolute, however, rejecting the offer from the platinum companies of a seven to nine percent pay increase in each of the next three years. The union has threatened to increase its protests at Lonmin, Anglo Platinum (Amplats), and Impala Platinum (Implats), where workers have been on strike since on January 23.
“We are encouraged by the determination of our members to confront capital head on and demand what is just and equitable,” the union said in a statement. “In the coming weeks we will be engaging in marches to mining houses and government departments to deliver our demands. We will coordinate campaigns locally and to the international community where we will unravel the extent of exploitation in South Africa at the hands of these multi-national companies.”
Meanwhile, support for Amcu is growing, as the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu) accused the mining companies of “using other means to bring workers to their knees,” referring to Amplats’ announcement that it will be suing Amcu for property damages and losses worth R591 million suffered during stoppages.
“We wish to express our dismay at the two most recent attacks on Amcu and miners who are striking for a living wage,” Nactu said in a statement. “The decision by Amplats to sue Amcu for R591 million for damages related to the ongoing strike action is another attempt by employers not only to break the miners’ strike, but also to deal a savage blow against militant unions.”
Amcu believes that “the litigation from Amplats is a last ditch attempt to declare the protected strike action by Amcu as illegal,” and remains unyielding, with no end in sight for the strike as yet.