Another strike looms as mining company is accused of slave labour tendencies

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Members of Numsa picketing outside Impala Platinum Mine in Rustenburg on Monday, 20 June.                            Photo: Masego Senosi
Members of Numsa picketing outside Impala Platinum Mine in Rustenburg on Monday, 20 June. Photo: Masego Senosi


The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA) members working for Reagetswe Mining Group, Triple M Mining and Newrak Mining embarked on an indefinite strike on Monday at Impala Platinum in North West.

In a statement, the union said employees contracted and employed to provide services to Implats were being exploited with smaller wages compared to what their permanent colleagues earned for doing the same job.

Union spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola  said these contract companies grossly exploit workers and “Impala Platinum has shamefully washed its hands off the situation”.

“They get no benefits and no medical aid even though they risk their lives to mine platinum. They do the same work but get paid less. Can you imagine how hard life must be for them when they are expected to survive on such meagre earnings?”

Implats spokesperson Johan Theron says Numsa is trying to exploit its members by saying they are not receiving the same wages as permanent employees but forgets to mention the bonuses that contract workers receive.

READ: Union warns of mayhem

“Permanent employees receive higher salaries and wages than contractual employees, but their wages are compensated with higher production bonuses. The more production in the company, the more the contract employees would be paid.”

Theron added that contract employees were employed at a shaft that was supposed to be closed down but was not to provide employment opportunities. Theron said:

Due to these strikes, the shaft could close and be left unattended because this makes it unsustainable.

Theron explained that the strike has got nothing to do with Implats and should be between the three companies and the union.

Hlubi-Majola says labour brokers operate like modern slave traders because if a permanent rock drill operator earns R17 000 per month, contract employees would earn R5 000 in comparison, with no benefits.

She says the ideal scenario would be for their members to be made permanent employees.

In 2018, Numsa won a Constitutional Court decision that confirmed that workers who work for labour brokers for over three months should be made permanent employees with the same salary and benefits as permanent workers.

“The majority of our members have been working at Implats for years and this kind of employment is an attack on their dignity. It relegates them to a permanent state of poverty. These people are creators of wealth and are responsible for the obscene profits of the company. They should live dignified lives.”

READ: Amplats to reveal results of probe into operations at Twickenham mine before year-end

Hlubi-Majola added that they served all these companies with a notice to strike and have submitted wage demands, which they did not want to engage in.

Reagetswe Mining Group and Triple M Mining have been ordered by the labour court at various dates to conduct verification to confirm that Numsa was the majority union, but they have refused to adhere to this court order.

Triple M Mining was ordered last week, while Reagetswe Mining Group was ordered last August.

“We meet the threshold and workers have chosen Numsa as their union of choice. Management must stop interfering in the constitutional right of workers to choose which union will represent them.” Hlubi-Majola said:

Once we have secured organisational rights, our members want to conclude a collective agreement based on other additional demands, including wage increases and benefits.


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