Num, Kumba to hold talks

By Drum Digital
06 May 2013

Mineworkers' union NUM said on Monday it was holding talks with Kumba Iron Ore about the dismissal of 120 workers.

The dismissed workers sent representatives to picket at the National Union of Mineworkers' head office in Johannesburg, urging the union to help them get their jobs back.

"We met with three representatives, which included two of our members [NUM] and one rep from the community [workers]. We explained the current legal process that is underway due to the illegal strike action," union spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said.

"We assured the comrades that the NUM is engaging with the company to find a resolution to the issue. However, we cannot act against the current legal process, which includes both a labour court application filed on behalf of the workers, as well as a criminal legal process by the State."

Phenyo Ohentswe, spokesman for the group from Kuruman in the Northern Cape, said they wanted the union's help.

"We are at the doors of the union, we are not fighting. We want [the union's] national [office] to assist us very urgently to get our jobs back," he said earlier.

"The branch and the region are dragging their feet on our case. We have lost properties and our children are no longer in school since we were dismissed in October last year."

He said 120 workers were fired in October for not attending disciplinary hearings.

This followed a wildcat strike for a R15,000 monthly salary, during which workers seized heavy mining machinery including trucks and bulldozers. Forty workers were arrested.

The strike followed industrial action in the platinum and gold sectors, during which some workers rejected union representation and elected a committee of workers to negotiate for them.

At Lonmin mine in Marikana, outside Rustenburg, workers received large increases in September, after a violent strike during which 44 people were killed.

Ohentswe said workers were not informed about the disciplinary hearings.

Seshoka said the union would meet its regional leaders to ensure the workers were kept informed on progress with their cases.

"The NUM cannot reinstate the workers, this is up to the company. However the NUM will continue to engage to ensure that interests of the workers are served."

Ohentswe said: "There is information that was supposed to have been communicated to us, but it never reached us."

He said due to financial constrains they were able to send only 22 people to Johannesburg. Seshoka put the number at 14.


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