Platinum belt: After the pay hike comes the retrenchment


This is not what even labour union movements’ man of the moment, Joseph Mathunjwa, had anticipated when he saw months of gruelling negotiations being yielded by a princely pay hike for members of his organisation. Mine workers who recently celebrated a befitting end to their five-month old strike are waking up to the reality that they might not even last a year enjoying their new packages, as their employer is about to embark on a retrenchment exercise to reduce costs.

Anglo American, the dual-listed company whose revenue has been severely affected by the strike, will soon announce plans to dispose of South African platinum mines, as part of a strategic review to sell its non-core assets.Unavoidably, this means that the world’s biggest metal producer will have to shed a fifth of its workforce (about 20,000 employees).

With most big players uncertain about increasing investment in mining, the most probable buyer might be a junior miner, with mounting speculation pointing to Sibanye Gold.

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