Platinum players work on way forward

21 February 2013

A meeting of major role players in South African platinum mining has spoken out against violence and committed to promoting workers’ right to associate and disassociate with any union.

The meeting was assembled by Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu following a violent incident at Anglo American Platinum’s (Amplats’) Siphumelele mine in Rustenburg, North West province on Monday.

Thirteen people were injured in a conflict which is believed to have flared up because of rivalry between workers’ unions.

Represented at the meeting in Pretoria were Amplats management, the Chamber of Mines of SA, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the Association for Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), and UASA.

The meeting, which began on Tuesday and continued on Wednesday, sought to canvass immediate actions to be taken by organised labour, business and the government in dealing with recurrent violence within South Africa’s platinum sector, as well as to look for long-term solutions.

Newspaper Business Day reported that the parties had agreed in principle on a protocol on how the various role players should conduct themselves at the country’s mining operations.

Chamber of Mines president Mark Cutifani, who is also Anglo American CEO-designate, told Business Day that “the fact that the minister engaged so quickly when we saw a few problems emerge on the platinum side is encouraging, and demonstrates [that] lessons have been learnt from some of the tough issues we saw last year”.

All stakeholders at the meeting condemned the violence and committed to promoting workers’ right to associate and disassociate with any union. The parties once again urged workers to refrain from intimidation and violence.

The Mineral Resources Department said it would continue to engage all stakeholders in the interest of ensuring that South Africa’s mining industry remains productive.

The parties were to meet again on Thursday to further discuss areas of cooperation between labour and mining companies in working towards a long-term industry solution.

SAnews.gov.za, with additional reporting by SAinfo