Implats fired around 17,200 workers for embarking on an illegal strike in January. Picture: Gallo Images
A "sizeable number" of fired workers at Implats have been rehired despite reports of intimidation and unhappiness, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Wednesday.
"Implats has been able to rehire a sizeable number of workers and that is continuing today [Wednesday]," spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said.
"There are some people who are not our members who say they don't want to be rehired, but reinstated," he said.
"There is no obligation for Implats, under South African law, to reinstate them because they were involved in an illegal strike action.
"[They] must understand that when you are being dismissed as a result of an illegal strike action you have no bargaining powers that you would have if you were still at work."
He said the majority of NUM members had heeded the call to return to work, but there had been a problem with intimidation.
The New Age reported on Wednesday that a group of workers were shouting: “Strip naked or die!” and hurriedly the working men and women undressed on the train station and were then made to run along the platform. The video footage of former Implats employees forcing people who wanted to go to work to strip and run around was publish on The New Age online.
Seshoka said he thought this happened last week.
"It has been getting better in the past week. We have requested the company to strengthen its security and called on the law enforcement agencies to be involved, even the army."
The NUM and Implats met on Friday to try and resolve the situation and agreed to work together to encourage dismissed workers to reapply for their positions.
Implats fired around 17 200 workers for embarking on an illegal strike in January. The dispute started on January 12 when rock drill operators downed tools because they were unhappy that miners had received a retention bonus and they had not.
Seshoka said the retention bonus given to miners was in an effort to minimise the high staff turnover.
"They [Implats] have a huge turnover of miners, but not rock drillers," he said.
Implats said it would rehire workers who reapplied for their positions, but would not reinstate them. This meant they could lose out on some of the benefits to which they had been entitled. The union would negotiate to have the benefits reinstated once workers returned to work, Seshoka said.
"Our agreement last week was that Implats will rehire workers and as soon as the process is finalised, we will then have a discussion on the way forward, possibly next week.
"It remains our hope that Implats will eventually reinstate the original conditions of service," he said.
Implats said it had not discussed reinstating benefits with the NUM.
"Despite recent press statements made by the NUM, there have been no discussions with the NUM on the retention of the dismissed employees' old benefits and conditions of employment," Implats said in a statement on Tuesday evening.
"The company has agreed with the NUM to co-operate with each other and to continue discussions."
Implats said the recruitment process started on February 7 with the rock drill operators (RDOs).
"All other categories of dismissed employees are now able to reapply for their jobs and it is expected production will resume as soon as the appropriate number of RDOs have been obtained.
"Recruitment will now also be extended to include new employees," the miner said.
Implats Rustenburg was losing 3000 platinum ounces a day, which amounted to R65 million in lost revenue a day at current platinum prices. -Sapa and TNA reporters
Watch shocking video below