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VENTURES AFRICA – JSE-listed platinum miners, Lonmin, Impala and Amplats on Tuesday night reacted with dismay to the proposed strike action in the sector, labelling it “regrettable.”
They were responding to a wage strike action threat by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which on Monday served these companies with strike notices, saying its members will embark on a wage strike on Thursday (tomorrow) this week.
These companies said they lost R12.5 billion ($1.1 billion) in revenues between 2012 and last year, warning this figure could increase if workers embarked on another strike.
During that period (2012-2013), workers also lost about R1.8 billion in salaries, excluding bonuses and allowances.
Additionally, the platinum price has sagged 19 percent in the past three years.
Also, the number of workers dropped from over 145,000 to less than 135,000 in the past 24 months.
”AMCU’s current wage increases are unaffordable and unrealistic. It is of great concern to the platinum companies that employees are being made promises by AMCU that cannot be delivered upon,” Lonmin CEO Ben Magara said in a letter he co-signed with Terrence Goodlace, Impala CEO and Chris Griffith, Amplats CEO.
The three CEOs said the wage demands were unaffordable and not realistic. AMCU wants rock drillers and other workers to be paid at least R12, 500 ($1,152) a month.
The CEOs said they were worried that workers were being promised salaries that cannot be achieved.
The strike, they said, will hurt the platinum companies, workers and their families and the entire country.
But Joseph Mathunjwa, the president of AMCU, responded to this sentiment by saying workers and their families were suffering already.
The platinum firms have already made salary offers ranging from 7 to 8.5 percent and including accommodation and other allowances.
It is believed that this time around AMCU is divided right through the middle as other workers believe this strike is really not in the interest of workers.
It is also understood that there is a faction that is preparing to break away from AMCU and form a rival union.