JOHANNESBURG –– Returning mineworkers received food parcels to help ease the deprivation suffered during the five-month platinum strike, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) said yesterday.
“We have started with provision of food parcels from the company, health supplements, and transport relief,” spokesperson Mpumi Sithole said.
“We understand people have been out of work for a while. The company has undertaken that people will receive their back pay within a week.”
Employees of Amplats, Impala Platinum and Lonmin were returning to work following the signing of agreements with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on Tuesday that brought the five-month strike to an end.
In terms of the agreements, which marginally differed according to the companies’ respective circumstances, employees would return to work on Wednesday.
The agreements were effective from 1 July last year for Amplats and Implats, and from 1 October 2013 for Lonmin. The agreements were valid until 30 June 2016.
Under the deals, employees would receive back pay from the effective agreement dates until January 22, the day before the strike started.
This would be made available within a week of returning to work.
During the strike the principle of no work, no pay was applicable.
Sithole said she could not give precise figures of how many people had returned to work at Amplats.
“We appreciate it’s not going to be something that happens overnight. We don’t have the statistics, but they are coming back in their numbers.”
The company would help its workers manage their debt, provide personal financial training, and legal aid for those in need.
Amplats was beginning its “safe return to work” programme, involving health and safety protocol and refresher training, Sithole said.
Lonmin spokesperson Sue Vey said returning workers would have to undergo medicals and retraining before they could resume their jobs.
“We also check all work areas, to ensure they are safe, but we have been doing that throughout the strike.
“We will be ready in a couple of weeks,” she said.
Vey could not indicate how many people had returned to work, but said this information would likely be available later in the day.
Implats could not immediately be reached for comment.
Spokesperson for the platinum producers, Charmane Russell, said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon that employees are expected to return to work yesterday, with the full resumption of operations in the coming weeks.
The strike, which began on 23 January, cost the companies lost revenue of around R24 billion, while workers lost earnings of around R10.7 billion.
Amcu had wanted a monthly basic salary of R12 500, which the producers maintained was unaffordable.
Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said on Tuesday that in terms of the agreement, entry-level workers would receive increases of up to 18 percent.
“No worker in the platinum sector will earn less than R8 000 as a basic salary, which is a breakthrough… Amcu is committed to make sure R12 500 minimum wage is reached by 2017,” he said.
Political parties, trade unions, business organisations, and President Jacob Zuma were among those who had welcomed the end of the strike. — News24