South African union considers legal action over layoffs

NUM calling on government to enforce labour plans

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) — South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers is considering taking legal action against the government if Glencore cuts over 600 jobs at its Optimum Coal unit, it said on Monday.

NUM said in a statement that Glencore had, in its view, failed to comply with its social and labour plans regarding severance packages and it was therefore up to the department of mineral resources (DMR) to "enforce compliance".

Glencore said last week it would proceed with a plan to close some of its Optimum Coal operations because of weak prices.

The Swiss-based company said it would place on care and maintenance some opencast operations, large parts of the coal processing plants and associated support services at the mine and would consider reopening them if market conditions improve.

"We are consulting with our lawyers as to what recourse we will take against DMR if they fail and Glencore succeeds with retrenchment," NUM Deputy General Secretary William Mabapa was quoted as saying.

Optimum produces about 10 million tonnes of coal annually, half of which is sold to power utility Eskom while the rest is exported. Officials from Glencore and the DMR were not immediately available for comment.

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