NEWS & ANALYSIS

Unions must learn from Lonmin retrenchments - UASA

Andre Venter says the gold sector must avoid going down a similar path

UASA requests members not to mandate the union down an unwise wage negotiation path 

 26 July 2015

This morning Lonmin, in the aftermath of wage settlements after the Marikana tragedy, issued a section 189 notice affecting 4 500 employees. This comes after 1 300 already agreed to severance packages.  

Mineworkers are being retrenched at Optimum Coal, Kumba, Lonmin, and others. There is little scope for them to find employment elsewhere. Negotiation sessions with the Chamber of Mines have delivered little or no progress as yet. This is not for want of trying by UASA.  

Due to the gold price having reached the lowest point in five years, the marginality of some of the shafts at all mining houses on the one side and the extravagant demands by certain unions are the reason. UASA is not implying that all such demands are unreasonable, however, in the present economic climate they are certainly out of touch with reality and therefore dangerous.  

UASA urges members as well as other unions not to mandate the gold sector down a similar path.  

It is time that certain union leaders learn an important lesson. What is the value of a large increase like the one AMCU achieved at the platinum mines last year when the end result is that, a mere couple of months later, another 4500 workers are let go? Let's not forget that each mineworker has an average of five direct family members to support, as well as another 11 extended family members.  

Will AMCU insist on standing by their unrealistic/unaffordable  demands in the gold sector wage negotiations as well? 

UASA's priorities are on record:  

Maximum preservation of jobs  

Abandoning the basket concept in favour of maximum expendable income in the pockets of our members  

Not in favour of committing to a five year agreement (insofar as CPI adjustments are concerned) in the present economic climate. 

UASA members are requested to stay in contact with their union representatives, the union’s negotiation team and keep an eye on union communiques for further information in respect of any movement on the current stalemate.

Statement by Andre Venter, spokesperson of the trade union UASA, July 24 2015