[miningmx.com] — ANGLO AMERICAN PLATINUM (Amplats) will go where
others are fearing to tread should it carry out its threat of dismissing workers who
continue to disregard the company’s return-to-work ultimatums.
CEO Chris Griffith didn’t mince his words on Wednesday when he explained that the
company has issued its last directive to the group’s Rustenburg employees to report
for duty, saying that previous instructions have been ignored for long enough.
“We have been more than reasonable,’ Griffith said, pointing to the numerous pleas
that Amplats has issued since last week. “At some stage we have to put our foot down
and I think we’ve reached that point.’
The company has given its employees until Thursday to report for work.
Operations at Amplats’s five Rustenburg mines were halted on September 12 when the
company cited widespread violence and intimidation as reasons why its employees’
safety would have been jeopardised if they were compelled to report for duty.
These closures were soon followed by the South African government’s undertaking to
step up security measures in the platinum-rich belt of the North West province in the
wake of the deadly six-week wage strike at Lonmin’s Marikana operations.
Amplats last week said that it deemed police to be in sufficient control of security to
recommence with work, but it has since reported attendance figures of less than 20%
at four of its five mines.
Some worker groupings have demanded monthly wages of R17,000, but this was
made outside the recognised bargaining structure, deeming the strike unprotected.
Amplats said that it has so far lost 20,000 ounces in platinum production due to the
strike at some of its most economically vulnerable assets.
“This is an industry in crisis and it is very important that we get our employees back
to work and that we do not reward anarchy,’ Griffith said.
The settlement at Lonmin, where employees were granted an increase of up to 22%,
has been a catalyst for workers to take similar action at many of South Africa’s
platinum, gold and coal mines, where workers are acting outside the established
collective bargaining mechanisms.
Among the mines affected, count Gold Fields’ Driefontein and Beatrix mines, as well
as all of AngloGold Ashanti’s South African assets. Mining companies have been
successful in obtaining interdicts against the strikers but have so far chosen not to
implement them, fearing an escalation of violence and prolonged disruptions.
Griffith said that Amplats was satisfied that the police would provide the company
with the adequate back-up to counter a likely increase in intimidation.
“The police have been demonstrating what they said they’ll do,’ Griffith said.