Pretoria: Minister of Labour Mildred Oliphant has called on all stakeholders involved in the strikes at platinum mines to commit to an early resolution of the impasse.
Two weeks ago, workers affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) went on strike demanding that Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin raise the minimum wage for mine workers to R12 500.
“To all negotiators, I know that you are busy with the negotiations. I wish that you will find one another (employers and unions) sooner rather than later and come to the agreement as swiftly as possible.
“We are still reeling from the world economic meltdown and we need to get the country working as smoothly as possible to be able to get the economy to create the jobs we so desperately need,” said Oliphant in a statement on Wednesday.
She cautioned against long, drawn out strikes as in the end the workers do not benefit. “Because of the principle of no work no pay, by the time a settlement is reached, workers have lost a lot more than they could ever gain.”
Oliphant said she believed that after a certain period of sustained action, “the strike ceases to be a weapon for workers interests but an arrow that inflicts pain and wounds in the workers themselves”.
The threat by Amplats that close to 2000 workers stand to be retrenched as a result of the strike was not making the negotiations easy, she said.
Oliphant said those workers who were on strike should respect the rights of other workers who do not wish to be part of the strike.
She said the “scenes of intimidation that are beginning to emerge out of the mine strike in Rustenburg are deeply disturbing and unnecessary”.
“Violence and intimidation cannot be condoned and law enforcement should take the necessary steps to protect lives and property,” said the minister.