Trade union Solidarity today said that it is saddened by the retrenchment crisis Lonmin currently faces. However, the trade union is positive that if Sibanye-Stillwater succeeds in buying Lonmin it could offer a favourable outcome for the platinum giant, creating new job opportunities which hopefully will stem or limit Lonmin’s currently envisaged retrenchments over a period of three years.
This follows after third largest platinum producer Lonmin, which was forced to its knees by unfavourable market conditions, was given a second lease of live by Sibanye-Stillwater. On 14 December Sibanye announced that it had acquired Lonmin in a R5 billion deal.
Lonmin CEO Ben Magara yesterday reportedly said that if this deal is not finalised soon, 12 600 would lose their jobs between now and 2020.
Solidarity Deputy General Secretary for the mining industry Connie Prinsloo, however, emphasised that those retrenchments are not bound to the success of the takeover. “According to our information, retrenchment plans did not arise as a result of the takeover. The plan was already on the table,” Prinsloo said.
Prinsloo also says that Sibanye’s five-year plan for Lonmin included, among other things, that all operations at the platinum producer’s older mines cease and that they be placed on care and maintenance so the mines can be retained for exploitation in the future. “Originally, Lonmin’s planning included that 12 600 jobs be cut over the next three years, while a further 890 might be in jeopardy,” Prinsloo said.
According to Prinsloo, Lonmin finds itself between the devil and deep blue sea. “If the deal with Sibanye is carried through, which unfortunately will also give rise to retrenchments, Lonmin will however have a chance of sustainability and, in the long run, it could again make a positive contribution towards economic growth and stability,” Prinsloo said.
“Solidarity is not in favour of retrenchments but support initiatives that create job opportunities, achieve job security and promote economic growth or create opportunity for such,” Prinsloo concluded.