LONMIN acting CEO Simon Scott says now that the punishing 42-day strike has ended, the company hopes to communicate with workers only through their unions, using established bargaining procedures.
The refusal by some Lonmin workers to co-operate with their unions led to an unprecedented situation where they represented themselves in wage talks, casting doubt on the value of collective bargaining processes.
Congress of South African Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said yesterday that settlements outside the collective bargaining framework, such as Lonmin’s, threatened to reduce the Labour Relations Act "to ashes".
Although normality will return to Lonmin today as workers resume their duties, the Marikana community remains tense.
There were reports yesterday that the death toll had reached 46, after an African National Congress councillor died after allegedly being injured by police when they acted against protesters on Saturday.
Mr Scott said in an interview yesterday that careful attention would be paid to rebuilding labour relations, containing costs and ensuring that Lonmin’s corporate social investment was effective.
Issues relating to the working and living conditions of mineworkers would be addressed on an industry-wide basis, he said.
"We’ve got to work at rebuilding trust and getting processes into place so workers deem they can work through their unions. We are going to act within structures and rules and it isn’t our intention to continue talking directly to workers," Mr Scott said.
Talks to establish centralised bargaining structures for the industry were already afoot, he said.
Mr Scott was hesitant to reveal the full effect of Lonmin’s increased wage bill following Wednesday’s settlement, and said: "The overall wage increase varied between 11% and 22%, so the cost is somewhere in between … the long-term fundamentals of platinum are excellent, but in the short term the business is going to require very careful management due to increased labour costs."
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