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Job cuts loom, platinum sector

RUSTENBURG - Mineworkers in the platinum belt have started reporting for duty.

Wednesday marks the first day in five months that thousands of workers will set foot on a mine.

But the mining companies and Amcu have agreed the workers wont be going underground just yet.

What we're proposing is restructuring of the labour relations regime.

They need to undergo fitness and medical tests before they can start working again.

The world's three biggest platinum firms signed a wage deal with Amcu on Tuesday, but said that fallout from a five-month strike made job cuts and restructuring inevitable, setting the scene for more labour 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 said 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 R24-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, said he wants to overhaul union-friendly labour laws to avoid another prolonged and nationally damaging stalemate.

"What we're proposing is restructuring of the labour relations regime," he said.

"It's not something that will happen quickly. That is a big deal and we do need everyone to buy into that."

President Jacob Zuma welcomed the resolution of the platinum strike in a statement, pledging to revitalise battered mining communities and restore labour stability.

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RUSTENBURG - Mineworkers in the platinum belt have started reporting for duty.

Wednesday marks the first day in five months that thousands of workers will set foot on a mine.

But the mining companies and Amcu have agreed the workers wont be going underground just yet.

What we're proposing is restructuring of the labour relations regime.

They need to undergo fitness and medical tests before they can start working again.

The world's three biggest platinum firms signed a wage deal with Amcu on Tuesday, but said that fallout from a five-month strike made job cuts and restructuring inevitable, setting the scene for more labour 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 said 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 R24-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, said he wants to overhaul union-friendly labour laws to avoid another prolonged and nationally damaging stalemate.

"What we're proposing is restructuring of the labour relations regime," he said.

"It's not something that will happen quickly. That is a big deal and we do need everyone to buy into that."

President Jacob Zuma welcomed the resolution of the platinum strike in a statement, pledging to revitalise battered mining communities and restore labour stability.

-SAPA

Article Time: 
June 25, 2014 - 10:07am

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