Last chance saloon for “Rustenburg Four’

[] -IF the informal worker representatives behind the
illegal stoppages don’t parly with Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) soon, the
company’s four mines currently idling – Khuseseleka, Thembelani, Khomanani and
Siphumelele – may never operate again. Not, at any rate, under Amplats’s flag. The
processing operations would continue.

Amplats announced today that it would proceed with disciplinary measures at its
Rustenburg shafts and that dismissals were possible. It’s described like this because
that’s the order of things in the process.

In practice, anybody failing to turn up for work over the next little while (Amplats is
keeping the door open for as long as possible) will be presumed party to the illegal
strike. Claims that there was intimidation will be no mitigation. Official-looking papers
will be issued as per labour law and dismissals will begin.

There’s not much likelihood of rehiring; while those who turned up for work at the
four worst-affected shafts, about a fifth of the workforce, either face retrenchment or
redeployment, market sources tell Miningmx.

As a result, Amplats has taken the decisive, leadership position in the strike contagion
by which Gold Fields, and other potentially strike-afflicted mining companies, might

By dismissing workers, it will demonstrate to the rest of the mining sector that
unlawful stoppages are a zero-sum game; that they benefit workers least. Hopefully,
the forces behind the strikes will be weakened rather than emboldened.

The message to workers is that there’s still time; not much, but some.

There’s no use relying on the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) currently. It has
tried to secure a toe-hold in the process by hoping to have annual wage negotiations
brought forward. But it’s thought that while negotiations may brought forward,
implementation stays the same.

Rather, the power to save the shafts is with the workers. There are 23,000 jobs at
stake, including contractors. This is the eleventh hour.