THE National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) marched to the De Beers Kimberley Mines headquarters on January 14 following what it describes as the company’s failure to consult the union about the sale of its last remaining mine in Kimberley.
In a memorandum handed over to De Beers officials the union demands among other things that the company suspend the sale of the mine and follow a proper consultation process.
The union threatened to embark on a full-blown strike if De Beers did not respond to their memorandum.
NUM said it wished to be afforded an opportunity to participate in meaningful discussion in an endeavour to reach a solution beneficial to all parties. The union also demands that De Beers pay employees their severance packages and allow those who wish to continue with the new owners the choice to do so.
Despite a strong police presence the march went peacefully.
The union also raised concerns of looming retrenchment after it claims to have noticed changes in the operational structures at the mine. NUM also demands that payment of monies due to employees since 2014 be paid by the company.
The memorandum was read and signed by De Beers officials Malcom Hendrickse and Louis Loock.
De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM), the local arm of the global De Beers Group, announced in December last year that it had sold Kimberley Mines to Ekapa Mining and Petra Diamonds for R102 million. Last year a spokesperson for De Beers, Tom Tweedy, gave the assurance that there would be no retrenchments as a result of the sale as Kimberley Mines was not being closed, but rather sold to Ekapa Minerals as a going concern.
According to Tweedy this meant that the provisions of Section 197 of the Labour Relations Act would apply and that all employee contracts would be transferred to the new owner “on terms and conditions which on the whole are no less favourable than they currently enjoy.”
De Beers said the sale was the best way to extend the life of the the mine beyond the anticipated closure in 2018.
“ The union also raised concerns of looming retrenchement after it claims to have noticed changes in the operational structures at the mine.