News / Economy

S. Africa Platinum Union, Mines Sign Wage Deal

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) President Joseph Mathunjwa speaks to striking mine workers at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, June 23, 2014.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) President Joseph Mathunjwa speaks to striking mine workers at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, June 23, 2014.
Reuters
The world's three biggest platinum firms signed a wage deal with South Africa's AMCU union on Tuesday but said that fallout from a five-month strike made job cuts and restructuring inevitable, setting the scene for more labor turmoil.
 
The three-year agreement with Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin ended South Africa's longest and costliest strike. The union's 70,000 striking members will return to work on Wednesday.
 
Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) president Joseph Mathunjwa told Reuters the companies had committed to “no retrenchments” for the duration of the deal, although his comment was at odds with statements from the firms.
 
Lonmin, the smallest of the three producers, said restructuring was “inevitable” to ensure its business remained afloat, especially while industrial demand for platinum in vehicle catalytic converters remained subdued.
 
Speaking to reporters and standing alongside his counterparts at Amplats and Implats after signing the deal, Lonmin CEO Ben Magara said the road ahead for the industry “remained a big challenge”.
 
The companies have lost over 24 billion rand ($2.26 billion) in revenue as a result of the strike and production will only resume in September.
 
“It’s inevitable that the producers' margins will shrink on the back of this, unless we see a strong platinum price reaction, which has been muted to date,” said Investec analyst Marc Elliott.
 
The Mining Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who played an important mediation role after assuming office last month, told Reuters he wants to overhaul union-friendly labor laws to avoid another prolonged and nationally damaging stalemate.
 
“What we're proposing is restructuring of the labour relations regime,” he told Reuters. “It's not something that will happen quickly. That is a big deal and we do need everyone to buy into that.”
 
Labor reforms
 
Pushing through reforms is likely to face stiff opposition and Mathunjwa has already warned any changes to legislation would be “unconstitutional”.
 
Job cuts are also a thorny issue in South Africa, which has an unemployment rate of close to 25 percent and AMCU members have gone on wildcat strikes to protest at planned job losses at Amplats.
 
As it embarked on the strike in January under the populist battle cry of a “living wage”, AMCU had initially demanded that basic wages of miners be more than doubled immediately to 12,500 rand a month.
 
In the end, its members settled for increases that amounted to around 20 percent annually.
 
Mathunjwa told reporters following the signing ceremony that AMCU would continue to “fight” for a 12,500 rand basic wage, suggesting negotiations were likely to rumble on in the future.
 
President Jacob Zuma welcomed the resolution of the platinum strike in a statement, pledging to revitalize battered mining communities and restore labor stability.
 
Life began to trickle back into the mining towns northwest of Johannesburg as miners returned after spending months with their families in rural home villages sitting out the strike.
 
“I haven't seen a cash vehicle coming out this way in a long time,” said general store owner Mohamed Moosa, 38, describing a truck bringing notes to an ATM in the dusty town of Marikana, which has been starved of cash and customers.
 
Investors will now be eyeing other potential labor unrest as the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, the country's biggest union with more than 200,000 members, is threatening to down tools from July 1, a move that would hobble the vital auto industry.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Role in Fighting IS Carries Domestic Risks

There are Western concerns Islamic State militants soon may unleash offensive in kingdom that could create upheaval - though nation has solid intel, grip on banking system More

Asian-Americans Enter Public Office in Record Numbers

A steady deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7893
JPY
USD
107.68
GBP
USD
0.6238
CAD
USD
1.1214
INR
USD
61.185

Rates may not be current.