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Jobs could be on the line as the platinum sector strike nears 20 weeks

by , 11 June 2014

Tomorrow marks 20 weeks since members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) downed tools at the world's top three platinum producers. And despite numerous interventions and mediators along the way, the strike looks no closer to an end. The situation is edging on desperate. And now job losses could become a reality of the lengthy stoppage. Let's take a closer look at what's going on…

The economy is buckling under the strain from the strike

Yesterday, the mining minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said that “the longer the strike goes on, the more likelihood of such dismissals,” reports Bloomberg. Not only that, the near five month strike is causing severe strain on the South African economy.

Mr Ramatlhodi said that “at some point you’re not going to be able to sustain your operations,” adds Bloomberg. He stressed how grim the situation is and that it’s “quite serious”.

Labour analysts confirm that the platinum producers can indeed fire employees if “their actions start destroying the business,” says IOL. But the most likely outcome would be retrenchments.

The mining minister’s tactics didn’t pay off

Over the weekend, the mining minister issued an ultimatum to the producers and union to come to an agreement by the end of Monday or he was walking away, notes Mining Weekly. The talks remain deadlocked. The minister and his team are no longer part of the negotiation process.

Yesterday, the mining minister stressed that he exited the talks “at a critical juncture… to pressurise stakeholders into a resolution,” adds Mining Weekly. So far, this hasn’t worked.

Mr Ramatlhodi also revealed that the government had offered housing for workers “in an effort to free up a housing allowance,” notes MoneyWeb. This would have meant that once the housing was complete, the workers could have the additional housing allowance as part of their pay.

The strike continues with no end in sight despite recent interventions from the mining minister. Will the platinum producers start to cut back on operations? If losses become too weighty, this could very well become a reality.

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Jobs could be on the line as the platinum sector strike nears 20 weeks
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