NC mine’s job cuts a ‘blood­bath’

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - NORMA WILDENBOER STAFF REPORTER

THE NA­TIONAL Union of Minework­ers (NUM) has de­scribed diamond min­ing com­pany Trans Hex’s in­ten­tion to re­trench 332 per­ma­nent work­ers in the North­ern Cape as a “jobs blood­bath”.

NUM ex­pressed its “shock and dis­gust” af­ter it re­ceived a Sec­tion 189 no­tice from Trans Hex to re­trench 332 per­ma­nent em­ploy­ees in the North­ern Cape last week.

This num­ber ex­cludes close to 200 con­trac­tors who are also fac­ing re­trench­ments.

The com­pany an­nounced last week that it had no­ti­fied the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers that it in­tended start­ing a Sec­tion 189 con­sul­ta­tion process over re­trench­ments at the Baken mine, which em­ploys 332 work­ers.

The Trans Hex state­ment said Baken had been in op­er­a­tion for more than 45 years and that “the com­pany has made ev­ery ef­fort to sus­tain op­er­a­tions at Baken”.

“How­ever, the mine’s low carat pro­duc­tion and sub­se­quent fi­nan­cial losses are now con­sid­ered to be un­sus­tain­able.

“Baken in­curred a loss of R35.8 mil­lion in the 2017 fi­nan­cial year (end­ing in March) and an ap­prox­i­mate loss of R46.5 mil­lion for the pe­riod April to July 2017. In terms of the no­tice it is en­vis­aged that op­er­a­tions at Baken will con­tinue dur­ing the con­sul­ta­tion process and that the mine will then be placed on care and main­te­nance ef­fec­tive from Novem­ber 1, 2017.”

In Fe­bru­ary last year Trans Hex said that it would re­trench 125 em­ploy­ees at the Baken and Bloed­drif mines in an ef­fort to ex­tend the op­er­at­ing lives of these mines. The com­pany also changed the op­er­at­ing regime from a four-shift sys­tem op­er­at­ing seven days a week to a three-shift sys­tem work­ing a five­and-a-half day week.

Trans Hex re­ported an over­all loss of R182.6 mil­lion for the year to end-March 2017 af­ter los­ing R100.7 mil­lion in the prior fi­nan­cial year.

NUM na­tional spokesper­son, Livhuwani Mamm­buru, said that NUM “strongly con­demned” the “ir­re­spon­si­ble” ac­tions of Trans Hex.

“This jobs blood­bath is a clear at­tack on the work­ing class, com­mu­ni­ties and the poor . . . a di­rect at­tack on mine work­ers in par­tic­u­lar,” Mamm­buru said.

“In 2015 Trans Hex closed its Re­un­ing op­er­a­tion, which re­sulted in more than 100 vol­un­tary sev­er­ance pro­grammes (VSPs). Three months ago the com­pany took another self­ish de­ci­sion to close Bloed­drif op­er­a­tions and 120 work­ers, who took VSPs, lost their jobs. Trans Hex is now con­tem­plat­ing a clo­sure of the last Lower Or­ange River (LOR) op­er­a­tion; and in all clo­sures the com­pany dis­re­garded the ap­pli­ca­tion of Sec­tion 52 Min­eral and Pe­tro­leum Re­sources Devel­op­ment Act (MPRDA) to save these valu­able jobs in the poverty stricken Na­maqua re­gion,” Mamm­buru said.

He added that NUM had en­gaged the De­part­ment of Min­eral Re­sources (DMR) re­gional man­ager as well as writ­ten sub­mis­sions to the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on min­er­als but noth­ing had been done to en­sure com­pli­ance.

NUM will host its Western Cape Re­gion Min­ing Shop Stew­ard Coun­cil on Septem­ber 16 in Spring­bok.

“We call on the ANC-led pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, the ANC pro­vin­cial chair­per­son and the DMR to ex­plain their ac­tion and plans to the work­ers to re­tain jobs in the min­ing in­dus­try,” Lefa Phat­soane, NUM Western Cape re­gional sec­re­tary, said.

DMR spokesper­son, Ayanda Shezi, said that the cru­cial mat­ter of sav­ing jobs in the sec­tor was re­ceiv­ing pri­or­ity at­ten­tion by the Min­er­als and Pe­tro­leum Board, ap­pointed by the Min­is­ter of Min­eral Re­sources.

“Any po­ten­tial re­trench­ments must be brought to the at­ten­tion of the de­part­ment and dealt with in terms of Sec­tion 52 of the Min­eral and Pe­tro­leum Re­sources Devel­op­ment Act. All min­ing rights hold­ers are re­minded to ad­here to the 10-point plan on sav­ing jobs, which was signed in 2015 by stake­hold­ers in the in­dus­try,” Shezi said.

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