Harmony unrest caused by union rivalry

2013-01-23 17:57
(Picture: <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com">Shutterstock</a>)

(Picture: Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - Union rivalry lay behind an urgent application by Amcu members to gain access to Harmony Gold's Kusasalethu mine hostel, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg heard on Wednesday.

Frans Barrie SC, for Harmony Gold, said the miners were given adequate notice of the mine's temporary closure and told not to return.

"This [the application] is nothing other than an Amcu [Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union] membership drive... Part of the rivalry between Amcu and the National Union of Mineworkers [NUM]," Barrie said.

"The application should not be heard as a matter of urgency. It has received much publicity and the circumstances of that have very serious implications."

He told the court about violence at the mine after mass meetings organised by the Amcu between October and December 2012.

On 21 November, miners stormed the hostel after an Amcu meeting at the stadium on hostel premises, causing R1.1m in damage.

The court heard 37 miners were staying at the hostel because they were part of essential services and helping to maintain the mine.

Barrie argued that if the 50 miners were granted access to the mine, the safety and health of the other miners would be at risk.

"The risk exists that they will be interfered with and that has a direct effect on the health and safety at the mine."

Judge Ndawoyakhe Tshabalala said his main concern over granting access was safety.

Earlier, Tshabalala said if the 50 miners were allowed into the hostel, the remaining 4 000 miners employed at the mine might also want access, which could lead to chaos.

Ivan Miltz SC, for the miners, said it was unlikely there would be any trouble.

He submitted that the 50 miners had not been told about the temporary closure of the mine before going on leave.

"There will be no chaos or a mass return of the others... but the 50 have been sleeping on the ground outside the gate, in tents and at the church," he told the court.

Mine shut down

On 3 January, miners were told that the mine had been shut down until further notice, in order to review operations after several illegal strikes.

Miners were locked out of the hostel and many slept outside the gates.

In December, 1 700 workers at the Kusasalethu mine staged a sit-in demanding that their fellow employees, who had been suspended, be reinstated.

Tshabalala asked why the miners were still at the hostel even though the mine had been temporarily closed. Miltz said this was where some of them lived.

One miner had been there since 1980, and their belongings, like pots, blankets and toiletries, were still there.

After hearing about the violence at the mine, which resulted in the death of two miners and a security guard, Tshabalala questioned the violent behaviour of miners.

"The concern is that if employees do that at work, wouldn't that be taken out of the work environment?" he asked.

Miltz said the application dealt with only 50 employees, not the other 4 000 employees.

"We shouldn't let the present application be coloured by that," he said.

The court heard that most of the 50 workers were members of Amcu and that the union supported the application.

Dozens of miners, dressed in green Amcu T-shirts, were in court. Before proceedings started, they protested outside the building.

Barrie rejected Miltz's argument that the 50 miners had not been aware of the mine's closure.

He argued that various methods were used to inform the workers and their unions.

The application continues.

Read more on:    amcu  |  num  |  johannesburg

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
4 real car inventions that seem like science fiction

Vehicle design and tech have come so far so fast, that what seemed impossible has become reality. These are some of the fun and exciting innovations that have found their way into vehicle tech.

/News
 

Top 10 richest musicians of all time

Check out the gallery to find out who they are!

 
 

Luxury living

Seven of the most expensive children's toys ever made
5 millionaires turned murderers
The youngest billionaires in the world and how they made it
Watch: Flying first class has never been this luxurious!
Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Innovation, idealism, romanticism and other far reaching dreams can lead you into a spiral of enthusiasm and excitement. Somewhere...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.