The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has threatened industrial strike action at Impala Platinum (Implats) if talks with the company over its plans to cut 13 000 jobs and shut down five mines are not successful.
Implats announced last week that it would cut its workforce by 13 000 employees over the next two years at its operations in Rustenburg to meet the challenge of declining global demand.
Addressing media at a briefing on Tuesday, AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa said the size of the South African mining workforce was estimated at 490 146 individuals.
“Forty-one percent of these individuals were employed in the platinum group metals [sector]. Since 2015, platinum group metal ore lost a total of 7 800 jobs, meaning that the recent Lonmin and, now the Impala retrenchments, are actually the most significant in history,” he said.
He added that an equally important consideration was the knock-on effects of these job cuts.
“Popular research has shown that one salary in the mining sector actually represents between five and ten livelihoods of spouses and family members dependent on said salary. This could mean up to 130 000 people [will be] directly affected by the looming retrenchments, and probably millions more being affected indirectly,” he noted.
He noted that AMCU would participate in the retrenchment consultations at Implats, and do its best to save as many jobs as possible.
“We hope the company will come to this consultation process with a view of following the legal test of a joint consensus seeking process and not being positional in engaging this matter.
“All the parties have rights in law and recourse should they have objections to procedural or substantive fairness of the process. We will closely monitor this and retain our rights to do everything possible to exercise the mandate of our members, including industrial action where necessary.”