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

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8016
JPY
USD
117.76
GBP
USD
0.6340
CAD
USD
1.1268
INR
USD
61.850

Rates may not be current.