Protest to try to curb job cuts at Ashanti

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Di­neo Faku

MEM­BERS of the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers (NUM) on Satur­day marched to An­gloGold Ashanti’s head of­fice in Jo­han­nes­burg in protest against the min­ing firm’s move to is­sue a Sec­tion 189 process to re­trench about 8 500 work­ers.

The labour move­ment in the min­ing in­dus­try vowed it would not take the jobs blood­bath ly­ing down with NUM, the big­gest union in min­ing, push­ing back on the re­trench­ments.

The march was a build up to the fight against re­trench­ments as about 21 350 jobs were on the line amid loom­ing job cuts at An­gloGold Ashanti, Sibanye Gold and the Bokoni Plat­inum Mine plans to re­struc­ture loss-mak­ing op­er­a­tions.

An­gloGold Ashanti plans to re­trench 8 500 em­ploy­ees amid plans to moth­ball the age­ing Kopanang, Savuka and Tau Tona mines. Bokoni in Mpumalanga plans to re­trench 2 651 em­ploy­ees, while 10 200 jobs were on the line at Sibanye Gold, which plans to re­struc­ture its loss-mak­ing Cooke and Beatrix op­er­a­tions.

NUM said that there was no ba­sis for the re­trench­ments as com­mod­ity prices had re­bounded since late last year, buoyed by an im­prove­ment in the world eco­nomic outlook, with the re­turn of risk appetite among global in­vestors.

Tafa Moya, the NUM min­ing co-or­di­na­tor at An­gloGold Ashanti, said the re­trench­ments at An­gloGold Ashanti were un­nec­es­sary.

“An­gloGold Ashanti claims that it is un­eco­nom­i­cal to mine those shafts. We are of a dif­fer­ent view. Our be­lief is that it is greedy to claim it is un­eco­nom­i­cal to mine those shafts, be­cause there is still gold un­der­ground that can be mined for years,” said Moya.

He also said the union was in talks with the Depart­ment of Min­eral Re­sources (DMR) to in­ter­vene.

“We are en­gag­ing the DMR with the hope that as the cus­to­dian of the coun­try’s min­er­als it can con­duct a due dili­gence on the three An­gloGold Ashanti mines to ver­ify vi­a­bil­ity of the mines,” he said.

The march comes as Min­eral Re­sources Min­is­ter Mosebenzi Zwane held a meet­ing on Fri­day with Sibanye chief ex­ec­u­tive, Neal Frone­man, as part of his pro­gramme on talk­ing to min­ing rights’ hold­ers.

“As a re­spon­si­ble gov­ern­ment we are, there­fore, con­cerned about the trend we have no­ticed re­cently on re­trench­ment an­nounce­ments, and we con­tinue to urge all stake­hold­ers to be more re­spon­si­ble in how these planned re­trench­ments are an­nounced, as they im­pact on thou­sands of lives and liveli­hoods.”

Zwane said the Min­er­als and Pe­tro­leum Board was in the process of ap­point­ing in­de­pen­dent ex­perts to as­sess the ore body at af­fected op­er­a­tions, to en­sure that the ster­il­i­sa­tion of min­er­als is avoided.

Keep op­er­a­tions

“We want to, as far as pos­si­ble, en­sure that we can keep the op­er­a­tions open, if they can be vi­ably mined by other op­er­a­tors,” Zwane said.

Gideon du Plessis, trade union’s Sol­i­dar­ity gen­eral sec­re­tary, on Fri­day took a swipe at Sibanye for the job losses.

“Al­though the of­fi­cial fig­ure for the num­ber of af­fected work­ers stands at 7 400, there are also about 2 400 con­trac­tors, 365 em­ploy­ees not yet placed as part of an ear­lier scal­ing-down process, and also about 50 peo­ple in man­age­ment po­si­tions af­fected by an un­re­lated process due to the sep­a­ra­tion be­tween Sibanye’s South African op­er­a­tions and its US in­ter­ests.

“This brings the to­tal num­ber of af­fected em­ploy­ees to 10 200,” Du Plessis said.

He blamed Sibanye for hav­ing acted in haste.

Du Plessis also said that re­cent man­age­ment reshuf­fles at some of the shafts had led to the com­pany re­plac­ing com­pe­tent man­age­ment teams with in­ex­pe­ri­enced man­age­ment teams, re­sult­ing in losses.

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