Newly appointed South African Minister of Mines, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, has pulled out of his wage talks which were currently underway between AMCU and the platinum mining companies, Lonmin, Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum.
This news comes by means of a joint statement issued by the three mining giants earlier today.
The event was preceded by threats from Ramatlhodi on Saturday, stating that his department and task team would abandon efforts if an agreement was not reached by Monday. “The Department of Mineral Resources will pull out of negotiations in the platinum wage dispute if parties do not come to an agreement next week,” he said. “I am pulling out on Monday if they do not find each other. If they do not find each other, I wish them and South Africa good luck,” was the minister’s closing statement.
Mineworkers packed up shop on the 23rd of January 2014 at the start of what was to be the longest mining strike in South Africa’s history. To date the strike has cost the mining companies R21,2 billion in earnings and the workers a potential R9,4 billion in wages. It has caused a 24,7% decline in total mining output in the country and an approximate 40% loss of platinum output on a global level.
On Wednesday, Ramatlhodi claimed that he had the end of the strike well within reach and said that he expected it to be resolved by the week’s end.
In a statement by the platinum producers involved, they said, “The companies thank the Minister, Advocate Ramatlhodi, and Deputy Minister, Godfrey Olifant, and members of the inter-governmental task team, for their initiatives and efforts. While the producers remain committed to a negotiated settlement, they will now review further options available to them.”
This is not a simple matter, as around 70 000 miners belong to the trade union, AMCU, and the majority of them are having to receive outside aid, as a particularly harsh winter approaches. All of the workers have not recieved pay for over four months and many businesses in mining towns such as Rusternburg are closing, as well as schools not being able to pay the wages of the teachers which are employed there.
If the strike is not resolved shortly, it is predicted that irreparable damage to the economy of South Africa will occur.