NUM not taking lightly the plans unveiled by Anglo Platinum and Kumba Iron Ore to retrench mineworkers

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is highly perturbed and disappointed by the evil and anti-worker postures taken by the Anglo Platinum and Kumba Iron Ore to retrench closer to
5 000 poor mineworkers.  Anglo Platinum mine on Monday issued a section 189A notice that it will retrench 3 712 full time employees across various business operations, and about 620 contractors across the company’s production bases. In its notice, Anglo Platinum stated that it is facing a challenging operating environment and market conditions due to declining PGM basket prices, declining PGM production output, reduced productivity, significant cost escalations and others.

Today, Kumba Iron Ore also unpacked its plans to retrench about 500 workers. The company staled as a reason the constraints on the state-owned rail and port infrastructure that the company relies on to transport the steelmaking material. By far, it seems all these companies do not have the interest of workers and their immediate families at heart.  What seems to be of their interest is only profit. The NUM is aware that Anglo Platinum is retrenching workers in labour-intensive operations with the sole reason to finally mechanise the mines. This means getting rid of poor workers and replacing them by robots. As always, workers are at receiving end.

These decisions by the companies would lead to a high rate of unemployment in various communities. It is without doubt that dozens of families would be plunged into direct poverty since such decisions would affect thousands of workers and contractors. The NUM is not going to take light all these evil plans. We are on record to have predicted that there would be high levels of possible job losses this year due to retrenchments in the mining sector. As it is the case now, most companies are indeed unveiling their plans.

They are citing all sort of reasons including load-shedding, the increase in prices of electricity and the Transnet transportation system to issue out Section 189A notices.

Clearly, for as long as there is still no immediate solution to the electricity crisis and rail and port infrastructure challenges, we will continue to loose jobs. Why are these companies doing that in a country that is faced by huge unemployment rate? What is more scandalous is the fact that the government continues to give tax incentives to such companies despite the fact that such incentives are used to mechanise and automate the workplaces. The question of why is our very own government a spectator in all these latest developments remained to be answered. We are calling on the government to proactively attend to these challenges as matter of urgency. The country’s economy cannot afford to endure any longer the adverse effects caused by the unreliable electricity supply.

The NUM is on record as having challenged companies, in particular the mining companies, to always be prepared to find ways and means to try and avoid retrenchments. Retrenchments must not be seen as a last resort. We simply cannot afford to add any more to an unemployment rate that is roughly sitting at more than 12 million people. It is a well known fact that these mining companies have made exorbitant profits over the past years, and they are better placed to navigate and deal with the effects of load-shedding.

We hope that the companies will approach the section 189-consultation processes in good faith and will work with trade unions to find a solution to avoid job losses. We are also calling on the company to sell the mines where they are saying they are not making profit. The NUM is ready and prepared to engage the company within the stipulated 60 days of consultation process, to try to find an amicable solutions and the avoidance measures. We will continue to fight for  the job security of all workers.

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