Amplats' plan to shed 14 000 jobs 'shocking'

Everyone is surprised

Amplats' plan to shed 14 000 jobs 'shocking'
Mine workers strike against loss of jobs

Anglo American Platinum’s plan to shed “up to” 14 000 jobs has again led to industrial unrest in the Rustenburg area, with workers on Tuesday night refusing to go underground, and resuming picketing outside the mines on Wednesday (16 January).

The National Union of Mineworkers has described this shedding of jobs as "shocking", while Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the rival Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, says they are "totally surprised".

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu has also expressed shock at the decision to restructure Amplats' business. She has further accused Amplats of contributing to unemployment.

SABC News and Morning Live have reported that following yesterday's announcement, the government has admitted that the decision, which also includes mothballing two mines, will have major implications for the country's economy.

Amplats took the decision after a series of violent strikes led to huge profit losses.

Shabangu says Amplats' business plan was not properly aligned, "hence we are seeing them today being able to shed thousands of jobs in a way that is unacceptable." She adds that the jobs are also shed in a way that undermines the economy of the country and that Amplats’ commitment to training workers is questionable.

"If one can ask Amplats how many workers they have trained to ensure they are able to move out of the sector or find jobs in other places – none," says the minister.

Amplats workers last night refused to go underground after their employer warned it would axe 14 000 jobs in a major restructuring of its operations

"We decided to stop the operations starting from tonight," said Gaddhafi Mdoda, one of the workers' representatives who led mass strikes last year, adding that strikers would try to meet the company's management today.

"There will be no night shift, no morning shift, until we reach a common understanding," Mdoda said.

Months after being swept up in a deadly mining strike, Amplats said early yesterday it planned to close four shafts and sell a mine considered unsustainable.

"As a result of the proposed changes to the business, a total of up to 14 000 jobs may be affected," the firm said. The vast majority of job cuts, 13 000 in all, would be lost around Rustenburg, a city 110 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg which was the crucible of violent labour unrest last August and September.

 

Additional reporting by Sapa-AFP

 

Full statement by Anglo American yesterday:

Anglo American notes today’s announcement by Anglo American Platinum Limited (“Anglo American Platinum” or “the Company”), its 79.8% owned subsidiary.

Anglo American supports Anglo American Platinum’s conclusions of the review of its business, announced in February 2012, and endorses the clearly defined proposed strategy to create a sustainable, competitive and profitable platinum business for the long-term benefit of all its stakeholders.

Cynthia Carroll, outgoing chief executive of Anglo American and chairperson of Anglo American Platinum, said: “Anglo American Platinum has concluded its thorough business review in the context of the company’s revised demand growth expectations and the many structural changes that have affected the profitability of the platinum business in recent years. In that context, Anglo American Platinum has identified the optimal mining configuration and the appropriate processing footprint, overhead structure and commercial strategy to improve profitability and drive greater performance. The objective has been clear from the outset: to create a sustainable business by facing the tough and necessary decisions for the benefit of all its many and varied stakeholders.

“Anglo American recognises the potential impact of these proposals on our people and their communities. We have designed a comprehensive social plan to ensure we make a positive difference in the Rustenburg and labour sending areas, creating at least the same number of new jobs as may be affected as part of the restructuring.

"A stable and competitive Anglo American Platinum will be on a sure footing to continue substantial investment in South Africa for the long term, enabling more secure employment for its 45 000 employees and delivering more sustainable returns.”

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