Northam Platinum workers are still on strike and operations at the company’s Zondereinde Mine remain suspended while management continues to engage with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in a bid to normalise operations as soon as possible.
Strike action led by the NUM started with the night shift on Tuesday 13 January. Following employees’ failure to return to work, in contravention of the terms of a Labour Court interdict, management temporarily suspended operations at the mine amidst rising tension amongst striking and non-striking employees.
About 5 000 members of NUM downed tools on Tuesday night demanding the removal of chief executive Paul Dunne over what they say are unfair hiring and firing practices.
NUM denies participation in violence
Operations at Zondereinde were suspended due to rising levels of intimidation and assaults related to the stoppage, however NUM has denied that its members were involved in violence that interrupted operations. “We don’t encourage our members to embark on violence or damage property. We are totally against that,” NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu said.
Nevertheless, Mammburu added that the strikers would “fight to the bitter end” against chief executive Paul Dunne.
Effects of the strike action
Effectively, operations have been suspended since Friday, 16 January 2015 in the interests of securing the safety and security of employees and company property. Essential services employees continue to report for duty as per existing agreements while smelter operations continue.
The ongoing strike action results in production losses of around 1 000oz of PGMs per day, equating to revenue of R11.5 million per day. Employees forfeit wages and benefits in the order of R2.4 million per day.
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