Implats fends off another illegal strike at Bafokeng mine

Miner obtains an interdict declaring the action by disgruntled contractors unprotected

Mineworkers are seen at Impala Platinum’s Bafokeng Rasimone Platinum Mine in this file photograph. Picture: THAPELO MOREBUDI
Mineworkers are seen at Impala Platinum’s Bafokeng Rasimone Platinum Mine in this file photograph. Picture: THAPELO MOREBUDI

Impala Platinum (Implats) has managed to quash a rebellion among its contractors at its recently acquired Bafokeng Rasimone Platinum Mine (BRPM) — the second such incident in the past seven months.

The contractors are demanding that they be insourced. The illegal strike caused attendance levels to drop to 60%-70%.

The group, which is facing plunging platinum group metal (PGM) prices, said the industrial action started a week ago at the north shaft of the BRPM operation in the North West. Implats obtained an interdict, which declared the strike unprotected.

The miner is undergoing a retrenchment process, which could lead to about 4,000 workers losing their jobs. The contractors were apparently demanding shares on top of permanent positions.

The group recently concluded a broad-based BEE transaction valued at about R9bn, the biggest empowerment deal so far in 2024.

“Impala Bafokeng has well-documented and recognised procedures for raising any form of grievance, as well as established engagement platforms in place with trade union representatives, to engage on issues concerning our employees and contractor workforce,” Implats said. 

“The group continues to engage with its employees, the representative union and other key stakeholders to prioritise a return to constructive and mutually respectful negotiation.”

The company said that after the strike the contractors had been notified and instructed to report for their usual shifts.

It is the second time Implats has fended off an illegal strike at its operations in the past seven months. In December, more than 2,000 workers remained underground at BRPM’s north and south shafts after launching an illegal action.

Mineworkers have increasingly resorted to illegal strikes to drive their demands home. Sibanye-Stillwater workers staged a sit-in over unpaid employee share ownership scheme funds and more than 200 workers were dismissed over the strike.

In April, Implats reported that almost 4,000 jobs could be slashed through retrenchments as the sector battles low prices and surging costs. The mining house said the process would also result in a 30% reduction in head office costs.

Implats CEO Nico Muller said plunging PGM prices since the start of 2023 and cost increases had forced the group to revise its business planning parameters.

“Cost-saving, capital-deferment and voluntary labour-reduction initiatives to date have not sufficiently offset the impact of persistently lower prices. This has significantly undermined Implats’ financial position, which in turn threatens future job security for the entire workforce,” Muller said.


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