23 May 2018

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) is bracing itself for another impending mass retrenchment of workers. The Union, reacting to last year’s job cuts, engaged in socio-economic protest action in order to highlight the failures of the Department of Mineral Resources to regulate and address job losses. AMCU says it will spare no resource to avoid job losses and get government to convene a Job Summit.

AMCU has received a retrenchment notice from AngloGold-Ashanti (AGA) yesterday (22 May 2018). According to the notice, AGA intends to cut a total of 2000 jobs from “all job categories and levels”. The reasons for the envisaged job cuts include decreases in the gold price since 2016, “uncontrollable factors” such as ore body depletion, increasing depths to mine, as well as lower- grade gold ore, increased electricity and labour costs, declining production, and increased cost of borrowing capital. This notice, as well as the sixty-day consultation period to follow, is guided by section 189 of the Labour Relations Act.

The above comes a mere few months after AGA closed its Savuka and Tau Tona mines in the Carletonville area, and many workers lost their jobs. However, AMCU was able to avoid 4000 of the initial target of 6500 during the previous set of job cuts. This was done through a variety of measures, such as transfers and Voluntary Separation Packages (VSPs).

We will be ready to engage in the consultations, and we will spare no resource to see how we can avoid further job losses and save the jobs of mineworkers. But still, this is continuing. We call on all trade unions to form a united front to save jobs in the mining sector. We have heard promises of a so-called “New Dawn”, but we have yet to see how this will make a difference in the lives of workers.

Late last year, as a result of the jobs blood bath in the mining sector, AMCU referred a dispute to the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC). This dispute, in terms of section 77 of the Labour Relations Act, focused on the socio-economic effects of the failure of government – and specifically the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) – to regulate and prevent unnecessary closures and retrenchments. The dispute deadlocked late in 2017 and AMCU obtained a certificate of non-resolution to engage in protected industrial action.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) is bracing itself for another impending mass retrenchment of workers. The Union, reacting to last year’s job cuts, engaged in socio-economic protest action in order to highlight the failures of the Department of Mineral Resources to regulate and address job losses. AMCU says it will spare no resource to avoid job losses and get government to convene a Job Summit.

On 20 March 2018, AMCU painted the country green when more than 30 000 members participated in protest marches. The main march, attended by over 20 000 members, took place in Pretoria where AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa led marchers to the Union Buildings to hand over a memorandum to the Minister of Mineral Resources, Mr Gwede Mantashe. Other marches in Durban, Polokwane and Welkom culminated in the same memorandum being handed over to regional offices of the DMR.

AMCU’s memorandum demanded a response from the DMR within seven days, but up to now none such has been received.

AMCU is also on record calling for a Job Summit – and this was again repeated at the 2018 NEDLAC Labour School, but still nothing has materialised from the side of government.

We will not allow our members to be robbed of their livelihoods, by the sheer pursuit of profit over people as we can see in many companies operating in the mining sector. We will spare no resource to campaign with the DMR to step up to the plate and ensure that the socio-economic needs of workers are protected.