SACP calls for 'calm' at plants

By Drum Digital
21 February 2012

The SACP called for "calm" at Impala Platinum (Implats) in Rustenburg on Tuesday as a labour dispute which has left at least two workers dead continued.

"We appeal for calm and that the union is allowed to play its role at Impala mines," SA Communist Party spokesman Malesela Maleka said.

The SACP was concerned by events at the mine and was "particularly disturbed" by the violence that has characterised the strike.

Maleka offered condolences to the families of the two men killed.

One of them was found stripped naked outside a hostel on Thursday and another died when a group, believed to be disgruntled miners, tried to torch a shaft at the North West mine.

The SACP said violence was being used to drive a wedge between workers.

It felt that the mining company had fuelled the situation by implementing salary adjustments outside of collective agreements.

Rockdrillers at the mine embarked on an illegal strike in January after the company paid a retention bonus to miners, but excluded them. About 5000 of them were dismissed.

According to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), a small element began preventing other miners from going to work so around 17,000 were fired by January 30.

Implats' plan to hire a new workforce created further hostility and eventually on Friday evening, Implats and the NUM agreed that the fired workers would be reinstated.

However, on Sunday evening, the night shift had to be cancelled when a group tried to burn down a shaft and by Monday morning one person was dead and at least seven were injured.

Congress of SA Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi would address the group gathered near the mine later on Tuesday.

NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka denied that the violence was being caused by a rival union trying to muscle in on NUM membership.

The reinstatement process continued and it was expected that 10,000 former employees would be back on the books by the end of the week.

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