Johannesburg, South Africa — 27 June 2013 – Hardline miners union AMCU has postponed talks with platinum producer Lonmin, averting an imminent strike, to allow more time for the government to reach a wider stability pact between labour and the mining industry.
Fin24 reports that deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe is trying to get unions and companies across the mining industry to sign up to a stability pact as wage talks kick off to bring an end to unrest that has been rocking the sector.
Meanwhile, Lonmin, the world’s third-largest platinum producer, and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) were due to go to arbitration yesterday over their failure to reach a recognition agreement.
“The company agreed to an AMCU request to delay the talks in order to allow the process of engagement, led by the deputy president to take its course,” Lonmin said in a statement.
AMCU, whose members have twice this year staged brief illegal strikes at Lonmin, had threatened to down tools there again if the recognition issue was not resolved.
Postponing such action to allow the industry-wide talks to take their course may indicate that AMCU is trying to show it can be reasonable. But the union, known for its militancy, could still strike at Lonmin in coming weeks if it fails to get its recognition agreement. And even if this is clinched, very tough wage talks will follow.
In a letter to Lonmin earlier this week AMCU said: “The strike action which has been decided upon has been delayed at the request of the deputy president. We reserve the right to issue Lonmin with a notice of commencement of strike action.”
AMCU claims to have over 70% of Lonmin’s workforce after poaching members from the rival National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in a vicious turf war, which rumbles on.
The government is keen to ease tensions ahead of polls next year and wants to avoid a repeat of 2012’s labour unrest that killed over 50 people, cost producers billions in lost output and led to credit downgrades of the South African economy.
A spokesperson for the deputy president said that the mining industry stability pact was expected to be signed next week. There had been expectations it would be finalised this week.
Source: Fin24. For more information, click here.