Mapping a future for mining

Motlanthe to lead urgent stability talks

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe will on Friday ask business, labour and government representatives to make commitments aimed at averting a potential crisis in South Africa's mining industry.

Motlanthe's spokesperson, Thabo Masebe, said on Wednesday that Motlanthe would meet with trade unions, the Chamber of Mines and several government departments from 9:30am on Friday in Pretoria, where he would ask all parties to commit to bringing stability to the industry ahead of the annual wage talks.

Two weeks ago, President Jacob Zuma asked Motlanthe to step in to stabilise the mining environment and calm investor fears over labour unrest. He has since met separately with mining bosses, trade unions and government departments.

"The purpose is to look at the bold steps that need to be taken by all the role-players to stabilise the mining sector and to avoid a crisis that could have a devastating impact on the economy," Masebe said.

"Government wants parties to make a commitment that they will conduct their business in terms of the law."

Friday's meeting comes after tensions between the National Union of Mineworkers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) returned to the fore in recent weeks as the two rivals battled over bargaining rights at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg in North West province.

The government has committed to increasing police visibility in the area after two fatal shootings involving mineworkers were reported in the area.

After the Marikana tragedy, which left 44 people dead after an unprotected strike in August last year, Zuma appointed a judicial commission of inquiry, currently under way in Pretoria, to probe the circumstances that led to the deaths.

This was followed by wage negotiations facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, where all the parties were later asked to sign a Peace Accord.

Masebe said the Marikana Peace Accord would be brought back to the table. He said it was central to stability talks.

"A Peace Accord was signed, so this is obviously one of the issues ... the parties must commit to conduct themselves [in line with] the labour legislation in the country to the extent that the Peace Accord is relevant.

"They will have to revisit the Peace Accord to ask: 'Have we done all the things that we committed ourselves to do in the Peace Accord?'. They will have to go back to that and look at what they have done."

Amcu has threatened to go on strike to demand to be recognised as the majority bargaining union at Lonmin. The union is currently in talks with the mine and has said it would issue a strike notice should negotiations fall through.

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Issue 42