HomeNewsReturn to work now the key focus in the platinum sector

Return to work now the key focus in the platinum sector

Platinum producers Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin have announced the settlement of the negotiations in respect of wages and conditions of service with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

Employees are expected to return to work on Wednesday, 25 June 2014, with the full resumption of operations in the coming weeks. The three-year agreement will bring an end to the five-month strike in which employers have forfeited revenue of approximately R24 billion and employees have lost earnings of some R10.6 billion.

The companies extend thanks to the Minister of Mineral Resources, Advocate Ngoako Ramatlhodi, and Deputy Minister, Mr Godfrey Oliphant, Minister of Labour, Ms Mildred Oliphant, and members of the Inter-Governmental Technical Task Team for their initiatives and efforts, who contributed to this breakthrough. The companies acknowledge the initiative of Judge Hillary Rabkin-Naicker of the Labour Court and the commissioners of the Council for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for their mediation efforts.

The separate agreements reached with each of the companies are effective from 1 July 2013 for Amplats and Implats and from 1 October 2013 for Lonmin, and will run until 30 June 2016. The three agreements differ marginally as a result of the companies’ particular circumstances. (Further details relating to the specific agreements may be found in company announcements)

The following principles apply:

  • An annual wage increase of R1,000 per month for employees whose basic wage is less than R12,500 a month for the first two years of the agreements. At Lonmin the same increase will apply in the third year, whereas in the other two companies the increase in the third year will be R950 a month.
  • Employees currently earning R12,500 a month or more, or whose basic rate reaches that amount during the course of the agreement, will receive an 8% increase for the first year of the agreement and 7.5% thereafter in respect of Amplats and Implats and 8% increase for the first year and 7.5% for the next two years in respect of Lonmin
  • The living-out allowance will remain at its current level at Impala, at Lonmin the living out allowance will increase in the first year and remain the same for the next two years and at Amplats the living out allowance will increase by 6% in the first year, and remain constant thereafter.
  • Fringe benefits and allowances normally based on basic pay will generally, during the course of these agreements, increase by amounts linked to the inflation rate.
  • All employees will receive, within one week of their return to work, the back pay due to them from their 2013 increase date until 22 January 2014, the day prior to the start of the strike.

CEOs Chris Griffith, Terence Goodlace and Ben Magara said: “The road ahead remains a challenging one and it will take some time for our operations to resume full production, with the safety and wellness of employees being paramount. This is at a time when the platinum market remains subdued, and operational profitability remains constrained. ”

Over the short to medium term, the companies’ focus will be on:

  • assessing and improving the health and wellness of employees, and undertaking the necessary operational and safety training;
  • restoring the physical environment in the affected mining areas and processing plants, and remedying any conditions that may have deteriorated during the lengthy period that these have not been in operation.
  • rebuilding relationships and trust between employees and management, which have been damaged by the events of the past five months.
  • assisting employees in stabilising their wellness and financial well-being, and addressing in particular the high levels of indebtedness that may have accrued during the period of the strike.
  • restocking the metals pipelines, which can take up to four to eight weeks depending on the metal.

The CEOs noted: “We acknowledge the work that needs to be done to improve the lives of our employees and members of our communities. We will work towards these goals in committed partnership with their representatives and the South African government at all levels. It cannot happen overnight.

“It is our sincere hope that our companies, our industry, our employees and all other stakeholders will never again have to endure the pain and suffering of this unprecedented strike period. None of us, nor the country as a whole, can afford a repetition.”

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