Progress made in mine negotiations

Progress made in mine negotiations

Progress has been made in negotiations between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Modikwa platinum mine in Limpopo in an effort to resolve a strike, the union said on Tuesday.

“We did make a lot of progress in the meeting yesterday (Monday),” said NUM chief negotiator Humbulani Tshikalange.

A compromise was reached in the strike costing the mine around R20-million according to a Business Day report, on the provision of transport subsidies for workers as well as the wage gap between white and black staff.

The only issue remaining contentious in the dispute, which began over allegations of racism, was that of continuous operation, said Tshikalange.

This compels workers to work seven days a week without being off on weekends.

“Since this also involves blasting on Sundays and averaging of working hours over 12 months, the NUM is contesting this working arrangement which is illegal in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and Mines Act,” he said.

The union was considering taking the matter to the Department of Minerals and Energy and the Department of Labour’s inspectorate divisions for intervention.

Around 2 000 Modikwa Platinum workers downed tools at 6am on Friday halting production at the mine, a 50 percent joint venture between Anglo Platinum and African Rainbow Minerals.

The wage gap between black and white miners, transport subsidies and expecting employees to work additional shifts on their days off prompted the union to continue the strike on Monday.

Tshikalange said while the company had not provided enough information on the wage gap issue, they had agreed to address the discrepancies identified by the union.

“It (Modikwa) has refused to provide the union with more information showing the salary structure which is arranged to benefit whites who are always placed maximum of the scale and blacks right at the bottom,” he said.

Two managers who allegedly wrote racist emails which were circulated in the company had also been suspended after a meeting between the parties on Friday.

Tshikalange said the union accepted the transport subsidy offered by Modikwa provided the company withdrew the conditions attached.

“The union compromised to demonstrate our willingness to resolve the issue… the company agreed to remove the conditions,” he said.

The conditions stipulated included management’s control over the provision of transport for workers.

Until the issue of continuous operation was resolved, the strike would continue, Tshikalange said.

Plans for a secondary strike would also proceed should the matter remain unresolved.

Modikwa platinum mine was not immediately available for comment. – Sapa


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