Lonmin now part of retrenchment bloodbath in mining sector – dark Christmas ahead for beleaguered Lonmin workers

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Lonmin has informed Solidarity that the company is planning to reduce its workforce by 1 139 workers before Christmas.

Lonmin says that the platinum sector is under pressure due to low platinum prices and rising costs that necessitate retrenchments. Because of these cost pressures, Lonmin has decided to place a number of its marginal shafts under care and maintenance and that is the reason why the 1 139 workers will be affected.

The first consultation session will take place on Wednesday, 25 October 2017. Solidarity will do everything within its power to prevent the retrenchments because the beleaguered Lonmin employees have received many retrenchment blows since 2009. In 2012, the Marikana incident brought fear and instability, and Amcu’s five-month strike in 2014 and the subsequent retrenchment of nearly 7 000 workers had a devastating effect on the employees and community.

Meanwhile, Lonmin also capitulated under pressure from Amcu and terminated the right of its skilled workers, represented by Solidarity and Uasa, to be represented by the trade union of their choice at the workplace. Numerous legal proceedings with regard to this undemocratic state of affairs are already underway.

According to Solidarity General Secretary Gideon du Plessis, Lonmin, with the announcement of the current retrenchment processes and an indication that a next phase of retrenchments will follow soon, must seriously reflect on its tactics to constantly create job insecurity and uncertainty with regard to trade union representation amongst its workers. “The stress and frustration levels of the Lonmin employees are increasing while obscure murderous gangs are murdering especially Amcu members in the area,” Du Plessis said.

Du Plessis contends that although there is speculation that the murders can be ascribed to internal Amcu rivalry, Lonmin is creating contributory tension between militant mining trade unions as a result of their implementation of the undemocratic majoritarian principle, the very principle that gave rise to the Marikana incident. “So now trade unions such as Solidarity and Uasa, whose members have never been accused of any murder and intimidation practices, are being shown the door to keep Amcu happy. This ill-considered decision might just sound Lonmin’s final death knell as it demotivates workers and impacts on production. Potential buyers should stand by to takeover Lonmin,” Du Plessis added.

“Given that a retrenchment process is regulated by section 189 of the Labour Relations Act, which stipulates that a trade union may represent its members regardless of the number of members it represents, Solidarity will take its place at the negotiating table on Wednesday, notwithstanding Lonmin’s ill-considered recognition decision,” Du Plessis said.

To lower current stress levels, Solidarity is calling on Lonmin in the first place to see to it that trade unions are not divided as had happened during a previous consultation process, and secondly to fully restore Solidarity’s organisational rights so all attention and time could be focused solely on job protection and not on the violation of our members’ right of freedom to association that comes with the recognition decision.

Gideon du Plessis
General Secretary:  Solidarity