Ten-Week Miners Strike Hurts Small Businesses In South Africa

Ten-Week Miners Strike Hurts Small Businesses In South Africa

Some small businesses in South Africa have lost up to 80 percent of their revenue as the platinum miners’ strike extends to a tenth straight week with no resolution in sight between the workers unions, government and the mining firms, Africa Report said.

Close to 70,000 miners allied to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) downed their tools at the end of January at the three world biggest platinum mines, Impala, Lonmin and Anglo American.

The ten-week impasse has seen these mining companies lose over $1 billion in revenue while workers have lost nearly $400 million in salaries. Economists have warned that the strike is already having a negative impact on both the mining industry and the economy at large.

There are no signs of an immediate moves on the cards to end the crippling job boycott. Talks between Amcu, government and mining companies are set to resume this week to end the strike. Workers are demanding an entry-level monthly salary of R12,500 ($1,125) but mining bosses say the demands are unrealistic.

The prolonged strike has further damaged the country’s reputation as an attractive business and investment destination. Lonmin said they were losing close to $4.5 million a day due to the strike.

Amcu has been holding demonstrations at different mining houses in the past few weeks to put pressure on the employers. It had threatened to organize a miners march to the seat of government in Pretoria.

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Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe met mining companies and unions to discuss the challenges in the industry last week but Amcu did not bother attending, but instead called for a separate miners rally.

“The situation is highly destitute (desperate), indeed we would like to see parties being able to resolve the matter. As we know that this strike is not only hurting the workers it’s hurting the country too. We really want a resolution… to the strike itself,” South Africa’s Minerals Resources Minister, Suzan Shabangu, was quoted by Voice of America saying.

Small mining contractors suffering

According to local media reports, Amplats is considering closing its Rustenburg operations.

Small companies contracted to provide services to the shut platinum mines are also facing potential ruin, with workers sitting idle as the bills mount after income from their clients was stopped at the start of the industrial action, BDlive reported.

“We can’t go on. We hope we will be able to get back to work soon,” BDlive quoted Tommy Maboe, whose five-year-old company, Phakwe Mining Services, provides underground sweeping and vamping services to Lonmin.

“Every day all of us are wishing for something better, some result so we can get back to work. This strike is very costly for our business. Employees are sitting at home, the owners are sitting. We are very cautious on what we spend because there’s no income.”