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Future looking bleak for SA mineworkers

Future looking bleak for SA mineworkers
Future looking bleak for SA mineworkers

JOHANNESBURG – SOUTH Africa’s mining sector is bearing the brunt of economic recession as mines continue to shed more jobs in a bid to survive a meltdown.

Among the latest mines to retrench workers are Kolomela and Sishen Iron Ore mines in Northern Cape Province, which announced the cutback of 175 employees.

Since the beginning of the year, 450 000 jobs have been lost in South Africa amid fears more could be lost. Unions representing the mine workers insist the retrenchments should stop.

On the other hand, companies blame the unions of instigating instability in the industry and other economic sectors. Mining contributes more than 6 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

On Monday, South Africa’s largest mining union – the National Union Mineworkers (NUM), expressed shock after Kumba Iron Ore announced its intention to retrench workers at its operations Kolomela and Sishen in the Northern Cape.

The giant iron ore is set to retrench more than 180 workers before end of this month, citing viability challenges at the two mines.

“I can confirm that we received this bad news from Kumba that they will cut jobs for both of their operations in the Northern Cape mines that are Kolomela at Postamansburg and Sishen in Kathu. Unfortunately when the mining companies do not perform well to maximise their profit they resort to retrenching poor and ordinary workers,” said Lucas Phiri, NUM Chief Negotiator at Kumba Iron Ore.

“The economy of these two towns relies on these mines and this defeat the objective of the South African government to create more jobs rather than cutting jobs. These numbers sound small but when one realises that one mineworker looks after more than ten family members…”

He said NUM would engage with Kumba Iron Ore management to try and halt the retrenchments while arguing the last resort will be to embark on industrial strike if their call was not heeded.

Expressing deep concern, NUM Spokesman, Livhuwani Mammburu, said in a statement such retrenchments were “not acceptable.”

“The logic of capital requires constant growth in order to accumulate wealth, but this growth is, unfortunately, dependent on exploiting mineworkers who still earn poverty wages. The NUM will fight tooth and nail to make sure that its members are not retrenched cheaply. We remain fearless, committed, dedicated and unshaken in fighting for our members,” Mammburu said.

 – CAJ News

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