The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) was hardly, if ever, mentioned at the central committee meeting of the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg, but the growing power of the upstart union loomed large.
The subject of Amcu didn’t come up as Num gathered to ponder how they could grow the membership of the embattled Cosatu affiliate, but many speakers could not avoid referring to the effect of the recent platinum strike.
Num General Secretary Frans Baleni and his allies have downplayed the impact of the strike – which will see the lowest paid worker getting the desired R12 500 by 2017 – suggesting that it’s a hollow victory.
But at the Num indaba, Baleni admitted that “after five months, their miners have lost about R45 000 in earnings and it will take them a long time to recover that loss . . . some have lost their assets”.
But what can’t be disputed is that the five-month long strike has cemented the fledgling union’s position as a serious voice for mineworkers, even though Num remains the leading union because of its long history of fighting for workers’ rights. Significantly though, Num shed 20 000 members in the past year, making its current membership about 275 000.
Read more in DRUM – 17 July, 2014.