Implats loses R63m, strike bites

IMPALA Platinum has lost R63million in the past week owing to strike action at its Rustenburg operation.

The mining company also suffered another blow on Friday when it lost a Labour Court bid to render the strike unlawful. Some 20000 members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) downed tools last Monday demanding better wages.

Impala said the strike action was illegal even though the NUM had a certificate from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. Initially the union demanded a 10percent wage increase, which the company had agreed to.

However, workers were now demanding a 14percent wage hike as well as changes to housing and transport allowances. The company vowed that it would not negotiate about the 14percent as it was "double the inflation rate".

Alice Lourens, Impala Platinum group investor relations officer, confirmed yesterday that the strike was still on and that management was waiting for feedback from NUM.

"The NUM met with its members yesterday and will be meeting with management today," she said.

NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said the union was looking forward to a meeting with management.

"We warned Impala Platinum that the solutions to labour relations problems are not at the labour court but at the negotiation table. They went on and lost, but we still invite them to negotiate," he said.

Asked if the union would drop the current strike action, he said: "We expect the company to deliver."

The strike has spread to Impala's Marula operations.