Chrome Mine Strikes Undermine Zuma

By Mvusi Ngubane    04-Jun-2013 23:10 UTC+02:00

Protests led by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have erupted within South Africa’s chrome sector in spite of President Jacob Zuma’s appeal for stability to be re-established in the mining sector last week.

Last Thursday, President Zuma cautioned the mining sector and unions to cease labour disruptions, assuring the nation that a zero-tolerance approach will be taken if labour unrest continues.

However, Zuma’s appeal seems to have had little to no effect on the chrome sector which appears to be adopting the same attitude that destroyed the platinum belt and slowed the country’s economy. Last year, the mining sector reportedly lost production of R15.3 billion due to strikes.

Amcu, which has become the largest union in the platinum belt, is mostly to blame for the mining sector’s unrest.

Joint mining companies, Merafe Resources and Glencore Xtrata saw protests break out in their Limpopo mines last week following the alleged assault of an Amcu employee. The protest soon spread to another nearby mine.

Morafe and Glencore company spokesman Chris Tsatswane on Friday reported that a meeting between the company’s management and Amcu has bet set. The meeting was said to continue over last weekend in the aim of reaching a solution.

Tsatswane further reported that an estimated 200 workers were dismissed last week after failing to appear at work in spite of three ultimatums issued by the company.

The company diminished the scale of the strikes by saying it had stock piles on the surface. “Currently there is adequate chrome ore stock within the venture to ensure that smelter and customer demands are met.”

“The company has reached a position and has given it to the unions. We can’t share the details until the unions have consulted with the members,” reported Tsatswane. “We can have meaningful reports on Monday.”

But Amcu’s treasurer, Jimmy Gamma, in accordance with the Business Report, said that no agreement had been reached yet. “Unfortunately, the strike will continue the shift boss [who reportedly assaulted an Amcu worker] is removed is removed from the mine,” he stated.

Continuing strikes gravely undermine the government’s efforts re-establish a stable a stable working environment within the mining sector.

On Thursday, Zuma appealed to mining organisation and unions to understand the effects the unrest as on industry jobs and development. He urged for fair and revenue-friendly wage settlements that “can contribute to the attainment of creation and job retention goals.”

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