By: Vicky Sidler

Platinum mine employees have expressed desperation to return back to work, but are too afraid to stand up to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), who initiated a wage strike in the sector nine weeks ago.

“I want to come back to work but I’m afraid of this animal called Amcu,” wrote one employee, as listed on the Platinum Wage Negotiations website. The employee said Amcu has been going from “house to house telling those who go to work that when the strike is over they will kill them one by one… I have family to support and I don’t want to risk my life for the sake of the mine. If mine can offer me a day and night security, I will then go to work with peace knowing that my family and I are protected.”

“We made a mistake by joining this union,” says another employee. “It is a dictatorship, not a union.”

Yet another employee has reported that up to 80% of the employees are desperate to return to work at Platinum giants Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin, but “we just don’t get a platform where we can freely voice out our opinions about this issue. We are scared of victimisation… [Amcu] gives an impression that we are still in support of the strike, even if we can see that our demands are unrealistic. Yes, we want money, but this strike is affecting us badly.”

Losses in employee earnings to date amount to about R4.4 billion, with revenue lost now exceeding R10 million. CEOs Chris Griffith, Terence Goodlace and Ben Magara have warned that “The extended strike on the platinum belt is unprecedented, and at a stage where some of its impacts are becoming irreparable. These impacts are not only on the companies, but also on employees, local businesses, suppliers and on communities.”

No talks are currently underway between the platinum companies and Amcu.

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