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The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is extremely worried about the looming proposed retrenchments of up to 35 000 mine workers.
Several companies in the mining sector have announced plans to retrenchment workers. Glencore has announced that 214 jobs at its iMpunzi coal mine in Mpumalanga may be affected. Seriti Power has initiated the Section 189 process at its Klipspruit affecting up to 800 jobs. Both companies have cited the massive reduction in shipping coal exports by Transnet Freight Rail and the backlog in processing exports at our ports.
If the crises at Transnet is not dealt with decisively and quickly not only may we lose 35 000 mining jobs but even more indirect jobs in the value chains and host communities. This will plunge these workers into absolute poverty. The Highveld Region in Mpumalanga will bear the brunt of this catastrophe.
Transnet is key to transporting mining, manufacturing, and agricultural products to their markets. Millions of workers` jobs depend upon Transnet’s efficient management, continuous investments and protection from criminals. The consequence of its rapid decline is now being felt by these critical sectors and their workers. Transnet Freight Rail’s capacity has deteriorated from a previous peak of transporting 80 million tons per annum to a shocking 50 million tons.
The decline in Transnet is plunging the state into a fiscal crisis as the mining, manufacturing and agricultural sectors are key sources of tax revenue for the state and earnings for the economy. Public services will be squeezed to the point of collapse directly due to the crises at Transnet.
We are witnessing the collapse of Transnet because of endemic levels of corruption within it, the explosion of cable theft, years of neglect of infrastructure investments and skills development, and a management team that is woefully out of its depth that must now go.
The Presidency and Ministry for Public Enterprises with the support of law enforcement and Treasury need to take swift action at Transnet before it is too late. Numerous calls by the Federation and its affiliates, the National Mineworkers Union (NUM) and the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) for the government to intervene have seemingly fallen on deaf ears.
We simply cannot afford to lose any more jobs with an unemployment rate of 42% nor can we afford to create ghost communities.
Issued by COSATU