Platinum producers, Anglo Platinum, Lonim and Impala Platinum are fighting for the South African economy. The three companies are the world’s largest platinum producers, and they deserve a high-five for not buckling down to the union’s demand of unreasonable wage hikes.
The continuous strike within the platinum belt has been going on for more than four months, and Julius Malema, leader of South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters, is supporting the mine workers fight for the minimum wage of R12,500 per month. While it might not seem like a substantial amount of money to pay each of the miners, there are implications that can take strikes within the mining sector to an entirely new level. The strike could create tensions that might cripple the entire South African economy. The platinum producers are fighting for the whole country, for the economy to grow rather than sinking under constant strikes.
If the strike succeeds, then the gold mines could start a strike demanding the same minimum wage as other industries that will take this opportunity to demand higher wages for themselves. The National Union of Mine Workers (NUMSA) was the union that lost many members to The Association of Mine-Workers and Construction Union (AMCU) during the 2012 strikes. NUMSA could lose its entire membership base to AMCU if the union succeeds in winning the wage negotiation during this strike. This strike can spiral into devastation for the South African economy.
Intimidation is the principal tool the union has been using and, as the strike continues toward its five month, there has to be a determined effort to bring this to a halt. The constant negotiations between unions and mine officials continue without compromise. The miners continue to strike, without fear, based on intimidation and the knowledge that, even though they are not paid a salary during the strike, their families are cared for. This action does not help the situation at all. The miners will not be able to make an informed decision to go back to work and accept the Platinum mines’ generous offer of increasing their salaries by a substantial amount over the next three years.
The Gift of the Givers, together with other charities should stop providing food and other necessities for the mine-workers’ families. By cutting off the continuously given donations, the miners will have to seriously consider returning to work to support their families. As long as contributions continue toward the families of the striking miners, they do not have to make a decision. While their families are cared for, they do not have the to deal with the pressure to provide for their families and do not understand the complexity of their actions.
The unions complaint that the mine CEOs earn too much money, should be considered within the context of the work and responsibility of the CEOs. The role of a CEO bears significant responsibility, accountability and authority within an organization. The CEO has to have first world knowledge and experience to drive change and profitability of an organization. The unions should understand the importance of such a high-profile person and the responsibilities to the investors. The unions must realize it is the investors who contribute toward employment and growth of the South African economy. Investors will not risk investing in an unstable country.
Platinum producers fighting this battle for the country are brave, and it is undeniably a situation others would not want to endure. The daily losses and inconvenience of a strike are unpleasant for local and international investors and, more importantly, for the miners who remain intimidated and confused about the real economic situation of the country. The unions mandated by the miners to seek higher wages continue to fight the Platinum producing companies on behalf of the workers. Their demands at this time could destroy the economy of South Africa. Platinum producers cannot lose this battle. For the sake of economic stability, there has to be a win-win situation. The consequences of loss for the mining companies can only cause a spiraling downward trend for other mining industries, loss of investors and eventually wiping SA off the global map, at least economically.
Consider the implications of these strikes in an economy that is drastically failing the people of South Africa. The striking people can determine the need to work or the need to become a government responsibility by not going back to work. A government liability the current African National Congress (ANC) administration will not be able to maintain as other companies close down due to the pressure from unions, labor laws and Black Empowerment implementations. Soon the country will rapidly decline into a lawless society based on greedy decisions of union bosses. The Platinum producers and other associated mining companies who tireless campaign against the unions and fight to save the South African economy deserve the respect of the citizens.
Opinion By Laura Oneale