South African Minister of Mineral Resources Ngoako Ramatlhodi intends to propose amendments to the Labour Relations Act that could give government the power to end strikes which are no longer in the public interest.
This comes after government failed to resolve the five-month ongoing wage negotiations between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and platinum miners Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonimin.
Since the strike began on 23 January 2014, the producers have forfeited earnings of R22 billion, while employees have forfeited wages of around R10 billion. Amcu has persisted to demand a basic wage of R12 500 for its members, while the producers’ current offer would see workers earn a minimum cash remuneration – comprising basic wages and holiday, living-out and other allowances – of R12 500 a month by 2017.
The effect on South Africa’s economy has also been severe, raising fears of a new recession. Nevertheless, Ramatlhodi believes that conceding to Amcu’s demands would only further harm the industry, resulting in mine closures and massive retrenchments.
“We don’t have deadlock-breaking mechanisms as government. If I had that instrument at my disposal, I’m sure I could have unleashed it. If a strike was to run for six months such as this one, it should be possible for the state to issue an order for the parties to accept a certain settlement. We can’t have indefinite negotiations,” he told reporters.
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