The United Democratic Movement expresses sadness over the layoffs that Pilanesberg Platinum Mines is putting into place. All staff are expected to leave the company’s premises by December 2, 2023 at the latest, according company instructions.

The UDM fully disagrees with the decision and supports the impacted workers who will be jobless this Christmas. We argue that in order to keep the employees’ jobs, other strategies must be developed, and government action is required to halt the layoffs. It’s high time for Mr. Gwede Mantashe, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, to step in and halt these layoffs. While the mining industry is in trouble, the government cannot stand by and should act quickly to preserve the workers and their employment.

The UDM became aware that the business had given notice of retrenchment in accordance with Section 189(3) of the Labour Relations Act and would start a consultation procedure before laying off workers. It mentioned “prevailing economic conditions” that affected the company, specifically the decline in the price of platinum group metals, overall inflationary pressures on operating costs, and restricted access to finance markets to reassess its spending. It made the decision to right-size, which included reducing its mining operations as of August, 2023.

Consequently, all extraction and processing activities were ordered to cease on December 1, 2023, and all employees were instructed to vacate the site by December 2, 2023. The employees have already been instructed to return all office keys, vehicles, and other equipment.

“The decision by this mining company to implement such drastic measures is really saddening. As we are approaching the Christmas season, there are breadwinners who are about to lose their jobs as a result of mine’s action. On top of that, we are currently facing a high rate of unemployment and poverty, which is already devastating in South Africa. These retrenchments will not only worsen the already precarious situation faced by the workers and their families, but they will also add to the country’s high unemployment and economic crisis.”

We know that the ruling party (ANC) would fail to protect these people while bragging about creating jobs in its manifesto, despite the grave circumstances. The ruling party has utterly failed to shield these kinds of workers from decisions made by businesses like Pilanesberg Platinum Mines that are motivated solely by profit.

It is alarming that the government is folding its arms while the mining industry is in crisis. The fact that so many mothers and fathers are about to lose their jobs, thereby forcing their families to go to bed hungry, is indeed sad.

The UDM would like to propose that instead of retrenching these workers, the company must let another mining company take over the affected mine and preserve the jobs of these hardworking employees, rather than laying them off.

Losing a job is the last thing we need in this nation, given the exorbitant cost of living in South Africa and the horrifying news that the banking sector has been manipulating the Rand.

We urge the workers, as members of AMCU and NUM, to band together and defend their rights. The workers’ unity will enable them to combat exploitation and layoffs.

Issued by:
Ms Namhla Notshaya
UDM North West Provincial Secretary