Amplats Union Says Asset-Sale Communication Left ‘Bad Taste’

The union that held South Africa’s longest mining strike said a lack of consultation by Anglo American Platinum Ltd. on its plans to sell some assets “leaves a bad taste.”

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union is “disappointed by the approach adopted by the company to make such a bold announcement without informing and consulting with the majority union,” AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa told reporters in Johannesburg today. The union isn’t seeking to block the deals, he said.

The Anglo American Plc unit, known as Amplats, could cut employee numbers by more than half through plans announced last month for the sale of its oldest and deepest mines. The company’s first-half profit dropped 88 percent because of the strike by the AMCU.

“The announcement was received through the public media without formal consultations,” Mathunjwa said. This “makes joint consensus-seeking in processes required by law difficult.” Even so, Amplats is entitled to sell mines. “It’s their business,” he said.

South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources should ensure that Amplats follows required processes during the asset-disposal process, he said. The union may meet with the platinum producer next week, he said.

Amplats has had “an initial engagement with all key stakeholders and we will continue doing so throughout the process,” said Mpumi Sithole, a company spokeswoman.

Lonmin Death

AMCU membership has risen to more than 100,000, with gains made in the face of violent intimidation, including the killing of a branch secretary at Lonmin Plc last month, Mathunjwa said.

Police have disregarded hit lists of union members that have emerged after labor figures were mentioned during testimony at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, Mathunjwa said.

“We’re not aware of any hit list,” South African Police Service spokesman Sabata Mokgwabone said by phone.

The commission is probing events around Aug. 16, 2012, when police killed 34 protesters. Police and security guards were among other victims killed earlier during a wildcat strike over pay at Lonmin.

About 2,000 workers at Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd.’s Marula mine walked out last month over issues including union affiliation, according to the company. The National Union of Mineworkers is recognized as the majority labor group at the mine.

“We’ve clearly seen more people joining AMCU at Marula,” Johan Theron, a company spokesman, said in an interview. “It’s now clear that that work stoppage was due to a shift” in union dynamics, he said.

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