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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

UDM calls on govt to intervene as platinum mine closes

“As the government, they must not take a back seat while the mining industry is in crisis; they must protect the workers and their jobs.”

A large number of employees at the Pilanesberg Platinum Mine (PPM) are facing a bleak Christmas after the company gave notice of a retrenchment process.

An undisclosed number of workers were told to vacate the mine by this weekend.

United Democratic Movement (UDM) North West provincial secretary Namhla Notshaya has called on the company to find a way to retain the workers’ jobs.

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“The Minister of Mineral Resources [and Energy] Gwede Mantashe must intervene to stop these retrenchments.

“As the government, they must not take a back seat while the mining industry is in crisis; they must protect the workers and their jobs,” Notshaya said.

The mining firm recently issued retrenchment notices in terms of Section 189 (3) of the Labour Relations Act and will begin a process of consultation with employees.

It cited “prevailing economic conditions” which had impacted the business, particularly the downturn in the platinum group metal prices, general inflationary pressures on the cost of its operations and limited access to capital markets.

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It had already undergone “significant right-sizing”, which involved scaling down its mining activities since August.

A plant was closed, with retrenchments of some staff, and the termination of suppliers and service providers.

In the current case, the firm said all extraction and processing operations would be suspended from today and it instructed all workers to be off the site by tomorrow.

‘Really saddening’

The employees were expected to return all vehicles, office keys and any other equipment. “The decision by this mining company to implement such drastic measures is really saddening,” Notshaya said.

“As we are approaching the Christmas season, there are breadwinners who are about to lose their jobs as a result the mine’s action.

“On top of that we are facing a high rate of unemployment and poverty that is already devastating South Africa.” She blamed the ANC for promising jobs as an electioneering ploy.

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“Despite this dire situation, we know the ruling party, the ANC, will be singing about job creation in their manifesto while it is failing to protect these workers,” Notshaya said.

The UDM suggested that instead of retrenchments, PPM should let another mining company take over and save the jobs.

“With high cost of living and the recent terrible news of the manipulation of rand by the banking sector, losing a job is the last thing we need in this country,” Notshaya said.

The party urged members of the National Union of Mineworkers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union to fight together for their rights, against the pending retrenchments and general exploitation in the mining sector.

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