Implats caused chaos – NUM

2012-02-27 11:08

Impala Platinum is responsible for the chaotic five-week strike at its Rustenburg operations, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has said.

“Implats is fully responsible for the mess they find themselves in,” NUM general secretary Frans Baleni told reporters in Johannesburg.

He said the NUM’s central structures had not been informed that Implats was going to implement a salary adjustment for miners.

This retention bonus had led to another category of workers – the rock drill operators – downing tools in an illegal strike over unhappiness that they had not benefited.

Overall, Implats fired 17?200 workers after they refused to return to work.

“The local structures [of the NUM] were informed by management, but were told in a sort of casual manner... and no details were provided,” said Baleni.

“And we are also blaming our own structures for not engaging with us... but it is the norm that this would have been discussed with us by Implats.”

Initially, Implats said the dismissed workers could reapply for their positions, but would lose any benefits they previously had.

However, on Friday the NUM and Implats agreed that workers could be reinstated with their previous benefits intact. They would not be paid for the days they did not work.

The labour dispute was marked by violence and intimidation with three people killed.

Baleni said the NUM did not know who was behind the intimidation.

“It’s difficult to tell who’s behind the intimidation, but we can assure you it’s very, very severe.”
He called on law enforcement authorities to ensure that workers were free to exercise their right to return to work.

Workers had until 3pm on Wednesday to return to Implats or they would not be rehired.

The company said it would take back only 15 000 workers, so 2200 would be left jobless. The union did not agree with this, but said it would investigate once the miners had returned to work.

“Once things are back and normalised, we will use our own expertise to prove the claim from Impala... There is supposed to be an expansion towards end of year which would have increased the number of workers,” Baleni said.

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