Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 29 February 2012 – Impala Platinum (Implats) has issued its sternest warning yet that a six-week strike at its Rustenburg operation “’ which has cost it R2 billion in revenue and was aimed at destabilising the company “’ could result in permanent job losses as it struggled to reopen certain operational areas.
The company has also suggested that the strike has been partly commandeered by criminal elements and that it is an assault on the authority of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which is the only recognised union at the mine.
An Implats statement issued here said: “The strike has now entered its sixth week and Implats has lost 100,000 platinum ounces, which is equivalent to a loss of revenue of around R2 billion. This will impact our operational ability to restart all the previous work areas, and clearly, the longer it takes to resolve this illegal work stoppage, the more jobs will be impacted.”
The strike was initially said to have been started by some rock drill operators who were disgruntled about a wage adjustment given to workers employed in the miners category.
Implats said this was only an aspect of the issue which fell under the umbrella of a zero-harm strategy at the mine that had been part of last year’s wage negotiations.
“It is regrettable that the miners’ increase has been used in isolation to rally support for the illegal work stoppage on the one side and to apportion blame on the other side,” Implats said.
It also welcomed a plea by Julius Malema, the firebrand president of the ANC Youth League, and ANC deputy general secretary Thandi Modise for workers to return to work and bring the violence to a close.
Four Impala employees were assaulted this week, with one employee severely injured. “Implats deplores this violence and intimidation and calls on the South African Police Service to continue its vigilance with this criminal activity,” it commented.
Implats said the strike was “not conventional” and that the illegal stoppage was “a direct attack on NUM’s position as the majority employee representative, as well as an attempt to destabilise the company. “It is clear that there are criminal elements taking advantage of this sensitive and volatile situation,” it said.
Impala said earlier it would rehire 15,000 of the 17,200 who were dismissed several weeks ago and who had reapplied for their jobs. These employees would be rehired with previous benefits intact, as per an agreement last week with the NUM and Cosatu.
Some 9,800 employees who had reapplied for their positions are involved with mining activities such as cleaning, establishment, critical end development and making-safe in anticipation of resumption, Implats said.
Third-party deliveries from platinum producers that have tolling agreements with Impala Refining Services were being processed as normal, the company said.