Wildcat strike at ­Mtubatuba coal mine could see 345 sacked

2012-10-02 00:00

AN illegal strike at a coal mine near ­Mtubatuba, now in its fourth day, could end in the dismissal of all 345 strikers this week unless they return to work immediately.

But union representatives are adamant that they will not return to work unless their demands are met.

Tendele Coal Mining (Pty) Ltd, also known as Somkhele Mine, has ceased all production, but it maintains it has enough stock to supply its customers.

The mine is wholly owned by a mixed commodity mining house, Petmin, which is listed on the JSE and the Alternative Investment Market, a sub-market of the London Stock Exchange.

The company’s website states that the mine processes in about 1,3 million tons of coal a year.

The striking contract workers, mainly employed by Sandton Plant Hire (SPH), are represented by both the Association of Mining and Construction Union (Amcu) and the National Union of Minewokers (NUM).

The strike is unprotected.

The strikers are demanding a take-home package of between R10 000 and R15 000, depending on skill level, and a housing allowance of R900, up from the present R600.

They claim to earn between R4 000 and R6 000 monthly.

The strike, which is reported to be peaceful, has brought the plant to a standstill as no raw materials are being delivered to be processed.

It employs 954 people with 74% of its workforce employed locally, and produces high quality anthracite.

Said NUM regional organiser Bonga Ngwane: “We have been trying to find a solution to the matter, but nothing is forthcoming and workers are refusing to go back to work.”

Ngwane acknowledged that the strike was illegal.

Amcu provincial organiser Warton ­Mbhaduli, who claimed that 65% of the strikers were members of his union, said they were unhappy with their working conditions and shift system and that the contracted staff had no job security.

A SA Police Service spokesperson at KwaMsane said he was called to the mine yesterday to monitor the situation.

No violence has been reported.

In an announcement last week, Petmin assured its shareholders that corrective action was being sought that could include “disciplinary action against striking workers, which steps may include dismissal”.

“Mine management is working with SPH management and union representatives to find a speedy and amicable solution that will allow for operations at the mine to return to normal as soon as possible,” it added.

SPH obtained a court interdict on Friday demanding that the wildcat strikers return to work by Friday noon.

By the end of yesterday the workers had still not returned.

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