The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) and UASA the Union – an affiliate of FEDUSA in the mining industry – have called on Impala Platinum to consider a new worker shareholder model to save 13 000 jobs. This scenario plays itself out against the backdrop where the country shed 300 000 jobs in the second quarter of 2018 according to Statistics South Africa.
FEDUSA’s appeal comes in the wake of a shock announcement by Impala that it plans to shut down five of its 11 shafts in the Rustenburg platinum belt that will see 13 000 workers lose their jobs. FEDUSA is also concerned about media reports that Impala decided to go ahead with the retrenchments despite assuring the Department of Mineral Resources that it will seriously consider strategies of saving jobs and keeping the five mines operational; and engage all stakeholders on the basis of Section 52 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.
The grim determination to retrench 13 000 employees is also a demonstration of a stark disregard and insensitivity to the plight of workers and their families following Statistics South Africa announcement on Tuesday that the country’s unemployment rate had risen to 27.2% in the second quarter of this year from 26.7% in the previous quarter.
“Workers with shareholding in a mine, working within a reduced management structure and lower operational costs could be the main ingredient to return its loss making shafts to profitability and save thousands of jobs and livelihoods; it is also critically important that workers pool their pension funds together in order to have the resources for financing the purchase of the five affected mines,” said FEDUSA General Secretary Dennis George.
“The other option could be the introduction of sustainable strategies to strengthen industrial democracy and worker participation in strategic decision making in operations and management of the mine. Under the guidance and mentoring of a new and much leaner worker and management structure, avoiding the ‘us and them’ while focusing on the bigger picture”.
Workers and their families - who are the real creators of Impala’s fabulous wealth - deserve to be treated fairly. The adoption of a new business model will give them a golden opportunity not only to save their jobs and livelihoods but will also give them back their sense of pride and self-confidence which is a fundamental human right, concluded George.