Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 6, 2008

December 4, 2008

by Justin Brown


Johannesburg – Trade unions in the mining sector are fighting to avert the devastating impact of retrenchments across the industry, which could swell to include more than 12 932 permanent and contract positions.

Lesiba Seshoka, a National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesperson, said the union did not yet have specific alternative measures to stop the retrenchments, but it was part of a task team that would look at ways to avert the job losses.

The task team was established earlier this week by representatives of mining trade unions, the Chamber of Mines and the department of minerals and energy to find solutions that would avoid the lay-offs or mitigate their effects.

Jaco Kleynhans, a Solidarity spokesperson, said: “Solidarity is extremely concerned about the effect that the retrenchments of several thousand mine workers will have on social welfare conditions in the mining communities in particular.

“According to our calculations, about eight people live on one mine worker’s salary. Solidarity is tremendously concerned about the survival of the towns whose lifeblood will be cut off if the retrenchments are implemented.”

Kleynhans said that what the unions had available during the restructurings was the 60-day consultation process required by the law.

During this period the union would seek to provide companies with alternatives to the restructurings they had announced, to prevent or minimise retrenchments, he said.

Solidarity was in the process of compiling documents on companies’ financial status and other information.

Seshoka said it was possible that the NUM would seek the intervention of the state.

However, he said, it was difficult to justify using taxpayers’ money to help private companies keep jobs.

Seshoka said the NUM had ended its strike at Lonmin’s Limpopo platinum mine following the issuing of a section 189 notice of restructuring at the operation.

“We are talking to the company about the retrenchments,” he added.

Lonmin said on Monday that 1 500 permanent jobs were likely to be lost at the Limpopo operation. This followed Friday’s announcement that 4 000 jobs were at risk at its Marikana mine.

Regarding DRDGold’s East Rand Propriety Mines (ERPM), the NUM has hired geologist Peter Camden-Smith as a consultant in an effort to avert the loss of 1 700 jobs at the mine on Gauteng’s East Rand.

James Duncan, a DRDGold spokesperson, said the firm had started the restructuring process at ERPM and a facilitator from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) had been appointed to the process and accepted by all parties.

The first session of the CCMA procedure had started, Duncan added.

He said that DRDGold had decided last month that the R115 million cost of pumping at the mine, which would take 12 months to complete, was “not affordable”. During that time the total workforce could not be kept on full pay, especially in light of the losses that ERPM had been sustaining over the past year.

ERPM contributed almost 80 000 ounces of gold, or a quarter of DRDGold’s production, in the year to June.

Duncan said DRDGold had received no expressions of interest from parties that might want to acquire the mine.

“This was not surprising, given the state of the markets,” he added.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: