Strike nation – Num blames ANC politics for strikes

2012-10-13 17:14

National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) general secretary Frans Baleni blames a “political agenda” driven by the upcoming ANC elective conference in Mangaung for the upheaval in South Africa’s mines.

“A political agenda is behind this and Mangaung is playing an important role because the NUM is a key component of the alliance,” Baleni told City Press on Friday.

However, he said claims that the union was focused on ruling party politics in the run-up to December’s conference, rather than its members’ demands, were an exaggeration.

In a wide-ranging interview, Baleni said the NUM was not just a helmets-and-boots union, but was “politically aware”.

He said all the NUM members joined the union knowing it was an ANC ally.

“Every year the majority of our members vote for the ANC. There’s no tangible proof that we’re compromising our members because of politics,” Baleni said.

He also blamed those NUM branch leaders who lost out in internal elections for the strikes.

“Leadership positions come with certain benefits, including an increased salary,” he explained.

About 54% of the NUM members were between the ages of 22 and 39, he said, adding: “Younger mineworkers are very impatient.”

The likely consequence of ongoing strikes would be layoffs and dismissals, he said.

“A number of those fired will come back to the NUM,” he said.

Baleni defended their record, saying the union was a victim of its own success.

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