NUM fights for recognition at Implats

2012-10-08 14:34

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is consulting lawyers to fight for its recognition at Impala Platinum Mines in Rustenburg, the union has said.

“We are taking Impala to court over it [recognition],” said spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka.

In a letter to the NUM dated October 1, Impala said its records put NUM’s representation at 13% of its work force.

The letter, signed by group human resources executive Colin Smith, gave the union until December 31 to reach a threshold of 50% plus one, or its agreement would be terminated.

Seshoka said that after the violent strike at Impala in February this year, NUM officials were attacked and their office at the mine was closed by force.

“Everyone opening that office was shot at. Our shop stewards were taken away to a place of safety,” he said.

He said the union went to the labour court asking for verification of members, following the strike.

“We agreed to work together with Amcu [Association of Mineworkers’ and Construction Union] to find an independent verifier, but we could not agree on the verifier.”

He said the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration was later appointed to conduct the verification process.

The verifier, after few months, notified them that Amcu was no longer interested in the verification process.

“We are also consulting lawyers as to whether the process can be conducted without the other party [Amcu].”

He denied that NUM was facing a revolt from it members.

“We are not going to be forced to submission. Violence is being used to recruit, but once it settled down members return home.”

He said NUM survived the onslaught in the late 1990s when members were killed by a rival union, Mouthpiece, in Rustenburg.

Mouthpiece Workers’ Union arose out of a bloody and unprotected strike at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and ousted the NUM for two to three years.

It arose from a claim that workers wanted their retirement money in the Amplats provident fund.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said NUM was no longer a majority union at Impala.

“The company wrote a letter to them about this,” he said.

Amcu was formed in Mpumalanga in 1998 as a breakaway faction of NUM. It was formally registered as a union in 2001.

Striking mineworkers have indicated they no longer want NUM to represent them, instead opting to elect a committee to represent them.

NUM T-shirts were burnt at Samancor Chrome Mine in Mooinooi outside Rustenburg last week.

Striking workers have signed up for Amcu saying it best represented the workers’ interest because it was not aligned to any political organisation.

The NUM is aligned to the ANC through its affiliation to the Congress of SA Trade Union, an ally of the ruling party.

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