Business: Solidariteit Successfully Averts Retrenchments
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The trade union Solidarity today said that the retrenchment of 495 employees at Simmer and Jack, which was warded off following a consultation process at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), was a victory for the employees of the company. Solidarity received a Section 189 notice from the gold and uranium company in November last year. According to the notice, the company planned on retrenching nearly 10%, or 500, of its almost 5 440 employees. The number of retrenchments has, however, been limited to only five.
The company wanted to retrench about 300 employees at its Buffelsfontein Gold Mine’s #12 mine and a further 200 at other shafts. Back then Solidarity warned that if the retrenchments were carried out, it would result in a repeat of the 2005 Stilfontein crisis. In 2005 the mine was placed under liquidation, which led to large-scale social problems in Stilfontein and the surrounding community. Shortly afterwards Simmers and Jack took over the mine.
According to Solidarity spokesperson Jaco Kleynhans, justice was done during the consultation process. “Solidarity encourages the involvement of the CCMA in Section 189 consultations. In this case, the professional conduct of the CCMA ensured that around 4 000 people’s source of income was preserved and Stilfontein was saved from a further poverty crisis. In addition, the commissioner joined hands with the trade unions and agreed that the consultation period could be extended,” Kleynhans explained.
Solidarity maintains that retrenchments at Simmer and Jack would have been ill-timed. “Gold is currently one of the safest investments and is now trading at record levels. Furthermore, Simmer and Jack aims to increase its production of 500 000 ounces per year to about 687 000 ounces – a project that will require expert labour,” Kleynhans added.
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