Solidarteit Wêreld
2017 – Uitgawe 6
Lonmin hangs onto luxuries but plans to retrench 1 139 workers
Deur Michelle | 16 November 2017

Lonmin now also has a big part in the retrenchment bloodbath in the mining sector. In October they informed Solidarity that the company was planning to reduce its workforce by

1 139 workers before Christmas.

Lonmin claims that the platinum sector is under pressure due to low platinum prices and rising costs that necessitate retrenchments. Because of these cost pressures, Lonmin has decided to place a number of its marginal shafts under care and maintenance and that is the reason why the workers will be affected.

Upon having received this information Solidarity had an initial meeting with Lonmin to discuss the retrenchment process in terms of which the company plans to retrench the 1 139 workers, including contractors. Lonmin indicated at the outset that the retrenchments should be dealt with in a sensitive manner, but ironically and in stark contrast to this expressed intention, the company insisted that redundant workers be retrenched before Christmas.

According to Solidarity General Secretary Gideon du Plessis, the trade union suggested that Lonmin sell its luxury game farm and conference centre located outside Mooinooi. “It is insensitive to retrench mine workers who form part of Lonmin’s core business, while enjoying the luxury of a game farm and accompanying modern facilities,” Du Plessis said. To date Lonmin’s management had not responded to Solidarity’s demand.

Du Plessis argues that during a public operational review briefing session held on 7 August 2017, Lonmin indicated that the company would cut its overhead costs with R500 million by September 2018. “We wanted to know whether the current retrenchment process forms part of the planned R500 million savings. Lonmin’s negotiators contradicted each other and couldn’t give a clear answer,” Du Plessis said. Lonmin indicated that they would provide an answer at the next discussions.

Lonmin terminates workers’ rights to appease Amcu

Lonmin has recently yielded to Amcu’s demand to be the only trade union to enjoy recognition. As from 5 November 2017 Lonmin will therefore be the only recognised trade union at Lonmin. According to Du Plessis, Amcu in October refused to participate in the retrenchment consultation process involving all trade unions, repeating its demand made to Lonmin during the retrenchment process in 2015, namely that it only wants to represent its own members in a separate process. “This development confirms the concern of Solidarity and our coalition partner Uasa that, within a matter of days, skilled workers, who currently belong to our trade unions, will have no trade union protection and support,” Du Plessis cautioned.

Du Plessis pointed out that, fortunately, the Labour Relations Act stipulates that notwithstanding a trade union’s recognition status, it may still represent its members during a retrenchment process. “Solidarity will therefore still be able to support and protect the rights of its skilled members at all cost after 5 November,” Du Plessis confirmed. The suspension of Solidarity and Uasa’s recognition is being contested.

“Due to a lack of confidence which now exists between Lonmin management and the Solidarity/Uasa coalition and which came about as a result of the undemocratic suspension of our recognition, the coalition requested that the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) appoint a facilitator to facilitate the retrenchment process,” Du Plessis said.

The official consultation process will only start once the parties have agreed on the issue of facilitation.

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Redakteursbrief

Hierdie uitgawe van Solidariteit Tydskrif is amper so geskiedkundig soos die laaste paar maande waarin elkeen van ons gekonfronteer is met die Covid-19-pandemie wat die wêreld basies tot stilstand gebring het. Dit sal die eerste keer wees wat die tydskrif nie gedruk word nie. Daar was tot dusver, met 107 uitgawes agter die blad, nog […]


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