By the end of this week, mine closures in the SA platinum industry will be announced. Just in time for labour negoitations when they start in May! You can bet the unions won't take this sitting down. Heck, they want increases of 20%!!
From the South African wires 04/29/13:
"Half of South Africa's platinum shafts are unprofitable at current prices and miners have little room to manoeuvre in gold as well due to industry costs now averaging around $1 150 an ounce. "
"You can bet the unions won't take this sitting down. Heck, they want increases of 20%!!"
Yes and it seems to me that both unions are trying to outdo each other now in order to win/hold onto their membership.
Seems to me that AMCU was the more aggressive in asking for wage increases last year but now NUM are catching up fast as well. Not sure how negotiating with the Chamber might change things :
"The AMCU and management of platinum companies met on March 15 to explore the possibility of negotiating directly with the Chamber, which is the case in gold and coal industries, instead of holding talks at the company level, according to Strydom.
The union will be holding discussions with the Chamber of behalf of its 310,000 members, according to Baleni. "
310 k members makes AMCU a very powerful force (not just in labour negotiations but politically as well) and I had no idea their membership was that large.
A bit more on the unions that seems to indicate a more aggressive stance by NUM:
"The NUM always starts with double-digit demands but it does so now from a vulnerable position after losing a bloody turf war in the platinum shafts to the radical Association of Mineworkers and Construction (AMCU).
Labour violence last year killed more than 50 people and led to credit downgrades for Africa's top economy.
So the NUM, having faced criticism that its leaders had grown out of touch and become too close to management, is likely to yield little ground and has signaled it will take a tough line on issues such as lay-offs.
It said it "condemned" moves by Sibanye Gold to lay off up to 3,000 workers because of an underground fire at one of its mines, despite the fact that the disaster has rendered those shafts inoperable for more than a year.
"We are challenging this. We think the fire is just an excuse," NUM General Secretary Frans Baleni told Reuters.
He declined to provide details of the demands that will be presented to the mining companies but said the NUM's members "hungry" and had given the union "a clear mandate".
The NUM's demands to the chamber will be directed at gold and coal producers which negotiate wages collectively through the chamber.
Platinum is done on a company-by-company basis but most of the miners in that sector now belong to AMCU, not NUM."
Interesting when you consider that the SA regulators limited Eskoms ability to raise rates by a mere 8% when coal workers are all going to be asking for double digit increases.
I'm thinking this should effect Eskom on both the internal cost side (labour) as well as for coal prices.
And this in an environment where the grid is under pressure and all kinds of added work needed to keep the power plants operating during the upcoming peak demand season.
Anyone know Eskom's ability to raise financing ? My guess is Eskom not in as strong a position now as when SA itself not so under pressure.
Yep. Should be an interesting week. Most surely an interesting May / June.
Regarding the Amplats closure, we are due to hear something by tomorrow. But the last month has been awfully quite. -- too quite for Amplats to have been actively negotiating with AMCU about a peaceful tradition to made-work jobs, or some such re-training with compensation. So, will we get the announcement? or another delay?
Either way, there are still both the wage talks and electricity issues likely to shake things up in May and June. There are even wage talks within the electricity sector, to add one more dimension.
"Union leaders at power utility Eskom, are already struggling to tame expectations despite efforts to get workers to drop their demand of a 20% increase."