The Minister of Mineral Resources will meet with mining bosses on Thursday in Pretoria in an attempt to find a settlement that will bring to an end the longest and most paralyzing strike in the recent history of South Africa.
The strike, which hit the platinum-rich north western parts of South Africa, the Rusternburg area, in January this year, which effectively means that it is now in its eighteenth week, with no sign of letting up, has had the most negative effect on the economy. It has resulted in the first shrinking in the economy since the recession of 2009. In addition, the controversy surrounding the strike has resulted in many deaths of innocent miners and relatives.
Just before the elections, the company executives, having made an offer to the Association Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and been refused, resorted to sending text messages directly to the workers, letting them know about the offer and advising them to return to work. This resulted in the killing of many miners who attempted to return to work. Talks had all but broken down between the mining bosses and the workers’ representatives. AMCU has been uncompromising in its demand that the entry level workers be paid a minimum of R12 500 per month. The captains of industry on the other hand, had tabled a deal that would see the least paid worker get the R12 500 by 2017. This quickly led to the breakdown of the negotiations.
That was until the new minister of Mineral Resources was sworn in. No sooner had he said his inauguration vows than he started trekking to the platinum mines, meeting all the stakeholders in an attempt to find a lasting solution that would put an end to this strike, which has seen everybody involved turning out to be losers.
In keeping with this mandate, Ngoako Ramatlhodi met on Tuesday with AMCU, which the minister described as very productive. AMCU was represented at this meeting by its president, Joseph Mathunjwa, treasurer, Jimmy Gama and legal advisor, Dali Mpofu. Coming from this meeting, the AMCU president was heard saying that the strike could not go on forever.
Ramatlhodi then went on to meet with the captains of the mining conglomerates on Wednesday. This meeting was attended by the labour deputy minister, Phathekile Holomisa and the mineral resources deputy minister, Godfrey Oliphant. The AMCU offer was tabled before the mining bosses of Lonmin, Anglo-American Platinum and Impala Platinum, who then requested to have time to read and respond to the proposals in a latter meeting. This meeting was set for Thursday.
It remains to be seen if the momentum that Minister Ramathlodi has gathered will be able to sustain him to the successful conclusion of this devastating strike.