Lonmin’s Karee faces lengthy standstill

[miningmx.com] — PRODUCTION at Lonmin’s Karee shaft could remain disrupted for several weeks as the company started to dismiss 9,000 workers involved in an unprotected strike.

Lonmin CEO Ian Farmer told Miningmx the process to dismiss the employees has commenced, in line with a court interdict granted on Friday.

According to Lonmin spokesperson Tanya Chikanza, no production has taken place since the evening shift of May 17.

Karee produces around 17,000 tonnes per day and contributed about 38% of total mining production at Lonmin’s Marikana operations for the interim period to end-March.

Asked for how long Karee’s operations would remain at a standstill or disrupted, Chikanza said the group was unsure.

“It is a process which has to take its course,’ she said. “Once this (the dismissals) is completed, Lonmin will commence a recruitment programme.’

National Union of Mineworkers (Num) spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka told Sapa workers were caught up in a union branch leadership dispute which had nothing to do with the employer.

“Lonmin management has been informed by the Num Rustenburg regional office that they have suspended the leadership of the Num Karee branch, a decision which the Num Karee branch leadership is disputing and which has resulted in this industrial action,” read a company statement issued earlier.

Seshoka said the union was trying to defuse the situation.

“Unfortunately, the company cannot have such people and has to let them go,’ he said.

The union would intervene to help people reapply for their jobs where required, but would not support those who “are on the wrong side of the law”.

It had a similar situation at engineering and construction company Murray & Roberts about two years ago, when about 2,000 people were fired.

On Tuesday at 14:10 Lonmin shares were trading up 1.31% for the day at R170.20.