DURBAN, Trade union UASA said on Tuesday that increased retrenchments were because of the energy instability plaguing South Africa, among other factors.

UASA spokesperson Stanford Mazhindu further said the union was “deeply saddened” at the announcement of possible retrenchments at Merafe Resources/Glencore Alloys’ Rustenburg smelter, and at Samancor.

Various factors had contributed to the need for retrenchments, he said, including but not limited to the energy instability currently plaguing South Africa, and the weakened economy.

“The devastating effect this will have on unemployment goes without saying. South Africa is currently sitting with a never before seen unemployment rate of 29%, with youth unemployment estimated to be around 52% as of December 2019.”

Mazhindu said UASA received a notice from Samancor in terms of the Labour Relations Act and would be actively engaged in the section 189 process with the aim of minimising job losses and ensuring business continuity.

Samancor cited low chrome ore prices worldwide linked with the increasing costs of production and low productivity due to the unavailability of electricity as reasons for the proposed retrenchments.

Approximately 2, 488 jobs could be lost, considering that the company employs 5, 714 employees.

“Now, more than ever, it is of utmost importance for stakeholders to come together with solutions on how we can save the mining industry from collapse. The ‘Sunrise’ industry as mentioned by president Ramaphosa at the mining indaba last year is currently under pressure from many factors, some of which, such as the unreliable power supply, could have been avoided as signs pointing to a coming disaster were there as far back as 2008.

“We urge the department of mineral resources and energy to reconsider the request of large industries to generate their own power without the need to apply for licenses from NERSA. This could go a long way in reducing the load heavy industries exert on the national grid.”

Source: African News Agency