SOUTH AFRICAN Communist leader Blade Nzimande called for a national mining indaba (conference) today to tackle the need to transform the industry through state intervention.
The Communist Party accuses the transnational corporations of the country’s three major platinum producers, Lonmin, Implats and Amplats, of avoiding centralised bargaining and competing among themselves on payments to workers.
“All of this has resulted in chronic labour market instability,” he said, after a three-day central committee meeting in Johannesburg.
“To add insult to injury, the senior management have been paying themselves huge and insensitive salaries and perks.”
Mr Nzimande said that, while the current 18-week-strike in the platinum sector had to be resolved, there was a danger that any settlement reached would focus on remuneration while issues of transformation would be sidelined.
“This will leave the initiative for and direction of restructuring in the hands of the mining monopolies,” he warned.
“The mining houses are looking to further disinvest, to close many shafts and operations, to retrench and to move to greater capital intensity at the cost of labour in the more profitable operations,” the SACP general secretary added.
“Not only will this impact upon employment and economic growth in South Africa but it will also have a grave impact upon our downstream industrialisation objectives.”
He said that a mining indaba should include how to take forward the resolution carried at the recent African National Congress conference in Limpopo that called for state intervention in the mining sector.
Mr Nzimande also urged talks on moving towards centralised bargaining for all mining sectors and changes to the grading system in the industry.