The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has vowed to fight to take over mines that are planning to close their operations because of nonprofitability.
Delivering his inaugural speech shortly after being re-elected as Amcu’s president for another five-year term, Joseph Mathunjwa said the organisation wanted to take mines which had indicated a shut down might be imminent, because “the minerals belong to our people and government is just the custodian”.
“No mine must shut down because it is not making profit. If they want to close the mine, then we are taking it. No mine should be mothballed because of superprofits, and for any mine that does so, we will be taking it over.
“We will go to the department of mineral resources and tell them that because they are our servants, we want that [mining] licence. We cannot be held ransom by monopoly capital. We will take back what belongs to us. We do not owe anyone an apology,” Mathunjwa said, to cheers and applause from hundreds of delegates who attended the union’s elective congress, which took place in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni this week.
Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe has previously said his department was considering taking back mining licences that were not utilised, using the “use or lose it” clause.
During his address, Mathunjwa also said the union needed to build agricultural academies in the various provinces to train retrenched mine workers to farm.
“If, at the next elective congress, we buy farms to build agricultural academies, all our comrades will be trained there, because the future of our economy is in agriculture. Can you imagine if, in every province, we have an Amcu academy?” he said.
The union also resolved, during the three-day congress, to lobby for the consolidation of workplace legislation in the mining sector.
Speaking to City Press on the sidelines of the congress, Krister Janse van Rensburg, Amcu’s head of organisational development, said the union had resolved to combine the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Mine Health and Safety Act.
“We finally have a mandate to combine the two sets of legislation, and we are saying they should be one because of the costs involved,” he said.
There were no changes in union leadership at the elective conference; all office bearers were re-elected unopposed.
Nkosikho Joni remains deputy president, the treasurer-general is Jimmy Gama, the national chairperson for health and safety is Xolani Bokoloshe and the national chairperson for education is Ntshebele Mankge. The secretary of the organisation, Jeff Mphahlele, is not an elected office bearer but an official of the union.