Impala Platinum Mine (Implats) has successfully navigated through a challenging phase of strike action, demonstrating the effectiveness of collaborative efforts between Impala Bafokeng Platinum management and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

The mine’s spokesperson, Johan Theron, expressed confidence that the tumultuous period is now behind them.

Acknowledging the strides made since last year’s labor unrest, during which over 2,200 platinum miners staged an underground sit-in, Theron reported normal attendance after the recent interventions by NUM and management. Initially, there was a 60% turnout at the north and south shafts earlier this week, but with concerted efforts, the mine has now restored normal attendance.

Theron emphasized the positive outcome, stating, “We are confident that we have overcome the challenges, set a path for constructive worker/employer engagement with NUM, and can now focus on restoring the business amid the prevailing low metal prices to protect as many jobs as possible.”

This achievement stands in stark contrast to the recent developments at Gold One’s Modder East operation, where 401 mineworkers were terminated due to their alleged participation in illegal strikes towards the end of last year. The NUM has disputed the dismissal process, claiming proper procedures were not followed. Gold One’s head of legal, Ziyaad Hassam, clarified that a comprehensive investigation preceded the terminations, with each dismissed employee given the opportunity to attend a disciplinary hearing.

In response to the industry-wide labor issues, Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, engaged with key stakeholders to assess the aftermath of strikes in the mining sector. The meeting, including representatives from NUM, World Federation of Trade Unions (Waftu), and Impala Bafokeng Platinum management, aimed at fact-finding and providing necessary support.

The Department of Employment and Labour expressed its commitment to constructive engagement with all parties to find viable solutions. Minister Nxesi will consider possible interventions once due processes are followed to resolve the impasse and facilitate the return of workers to their duties.

In addition to discussions with unions, Nxesi advocated for direct talks with workers to address crucial issues such as health and safety, workers’ rights, avoidance of mass retrenchments, capacity building, training of shop stewards, and the overall role of unions. The emphasis on dialogue and resolution has been underscored as the way forward in addressing the challenges faced by the mining company.