Phone: +27 (0) 830 123 543
Phone: +27 (0) 11 377 2198/9
NUM POST NEC STATEMENT
Date: 22 February 2014
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) met over two days, 20th and 21st February2014 and deliberated on the following:
2. MINING INDUSTRY
2.1 Strike action and job losses in minding industry
The NEC is calling on all workers in the industry with their union representatives to ensure that when they undertake strike action they conduct peaceful protest that is effective and purposeful. This is to ensure that the actions and demands by workers do not result in job losses.
2.2 Gold sector
2.2.1 Sibanye Gold
The NEC has looked at the developments at this company and expressed disapproval about unilateral decisions that are anti-transformation agenda at the company. NUM in response will be rolling out mass action to challenge unilateralism and the anti-transformation developments by the company.
2.3 Platinum sector strike
2.3.1 Protection of workers willing to go to work
The NEC has noted that the mining industry has not returned back to perfect normality since the events of 2012 that sparked turmoil particularly in the platinum sector which had a snowball effect in other sectors such as coal, and gold .It noted with serious concern the intimidation, violence, and attacks on other workers which continues to plaque the platinum sector in the wake of the current on-going strike action.
Many of NUM members who wished to go to work were prevented from doing so by striking workers. This is in breach of the framework for peace and stability signed by stakeholders last year which encompasses the union that has called for the current strike.
It is the NEC`s view that mining companies have dismally failed to protect workers willing to go to work. For example one of our members was attacked yesterday by being set alight and hacked with a panga .He has suffered severe wounds as a result . Clearly this is not a peaceful protest. Surely our members continue to be attacked.
2.3.2 Increase in membership
The NEC is encouraged by the return of members to its ranks. They have realised that populist demagogues make empty promises while setting up workers for a doomsday. This reclaim is giving us more courage to go all out.
Already the union has put systems in place to embrace these realities and move beyond them as part of repositioning itself to continue to bear influence in the sectors it operates in.
2.3.3 Impact on the platinum sector
Whilst the NUM has observed an increase in membership on the platinum belt as a result of the unhappiness with the strike action, the NEC is highly concerned on the possible impact of the industrial action on jobs. As a result of the last protracted industrial action, a total of 5 210 jobs were lost at Impala Platinum, 7450 at Anglo platinum and an estimated 3000 jobs at Lonmin, total 16,660.
These figures exclude the gold sector. More jobs are likely to be lost as platinum companies punt new figures. The NUM believes that industrial action is a necessary evil to deal with errant employers. However, industrial action should not be violent and its intention should not be malice.
2.3.4 Lessons and options
The leadership is mandated to explore legal options should our members be prejudiced as a result of the on-going industrial action. The greatest lesson arising out of the current wage impasse in the platinum sector has emboldened us on the imperative to unite workers so that collectively it could be easy to affect maximum blow on capital.
Due to lack of unity amongst workers and the vicious self-centred contestation between their formations in the platinum sector , the employer still wield more power and have become too organised and united to be defeated by a single inexperienced union .
2.4 Centralised Negotiations for Platinum
2.4.1 Central Bargaining Forum
Already what we are seeing currently on the negotiations facilitated by CCMA is centralised collective bargaining in practice and any denial of this is simply a display of sanctimoniousness.
The NEC believes that this has not come by mistake but out of the realisation that it serves the purpose of negotiations better for the benefit of all. To this effect NUM calls on all stakeholders to return to the process of building centralised bargaining that had started in 2013.
2.4.2 Legal action punted by Anglo platinum
The NEC has noted the legal recourse sought by Anglo platinum to the tune of R591m in damages against a trade union for loss of production and profits. The NEC takes the view that employers are threatening legal action because production loss and when the members of NUM were attacked and in some instances killed the employer failed to consider legal action against perpetrators.
No legal action was taken for redress to their own employees. This reinforces the view that mining companies are more concerned with their pockets than lives of mineworkers which is deplorable .Furthermore; NUM does not derive joy from another union being legally pursued by employers because tomorrow it could be us. Thus views this action on workers as an attack on labour.
We appeal to workers across the board to avoid acts of violence .These kind of actions tend to undermine the importance of the issues raised by workers and feed into employer propaganda offensive which tends to tilt public opinion in favour of the employers.
The NEC holds that workers and their representative unions have the capacity to undertake peaceful effective actions. The recent NUM strike at Northam is a case in point .That strike action was undertaken effectively without acts of violence and intimidation and the workers came out this action on moral high ground.
2.5 Appointment of new CEO at Northam
The NEC is concerned that Northam has decided to replace its former CEO with a well-known belligerent anarchist who triggered the tumultuous tide of turmoil at Impala and in the platinum belt .The NEC is aware that this belligerent anarchist respects no agreements and is a deceitful muster of divide and rule.
The NEC takes this opportunity to inform Northam that if they have chosen this man to recover the loss they endured during the strike they have applied anger and not rationale in appointing him. Northam is surely going to be eroded in terms of our experience of this man.
3. Wage negotiations
The NEC noted with disappointment the arbitration award given to Eskom by the CCMA. NUM wishes to caution the parastatal not to celebrate this outcome .We once more urge the entity to engage with the unions in a bid to improve the 5,6% offer which we still believe is not sufficient to improve the livelihood of the workers .
The NEC registered its utter disappointment on the behaviour and attitude of the Building, Construction and Allied Workers Union (BCAWU) which seeks to reverse a better increment offered by the South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors (SAFCEC) to workers as secured by NUM .We now know that BCAWU `s posturing is driven by self-centredness and not the interest of workers. We believe that NUM victory is victory for workers and BCAWU must take a rest.
4. Health and Safety
4.1 Injuries and fatalities
The NEC noted with sadness the number of fatalities that happened recently in the gold sector, in particular at Harmony Gold. It is worried that the commitment of 2013 Zero Harm may not see the light of day as companies look more to saving costs.
The Executive Committee while noting the loss of breadwinners it welcomed the gesture made by Harmony Gold Board Chairperson Mr Patrice Motsepe of contributing R75 000 for each family towards an educational trust.
The NEC appeals to all mining companies to emulate these interventions. In this regard companies should ensure that contractors enjoy the same benefits as miners as in most instances they find themselves worse off comparatively speaking.
4.2 Compensation uniformity
The NEC noted negative effect of sub-contracting which makes workers more vulnerable. It therefore calls for the uniformity of compensation to protect sub-contract workers.
4.3 Tracing technology
The NEC further agreed to consult with members on the use of tracing technology which will be used to trace workers in case of accidents. The NEC is also aware of unintended consequences of such technology. For example employers may be tempted to use it for ulterior motives like subjecting workers to undue scrutiny or effectively spying on workers .This we shall not support and we will condemn.
5. Mining charter
The NEC is concerned that 2014 marks the fifth year of the mining charter and there is yet to be an evaluation. However, the NEC felt that with the information at hand, it is clear that targets as set out in the mining charter have not been met by mining companies.
The NEC took exception to Sibanye Gold ‘s reported intention to take the Minister to court over the 26% ownership target required by the mining charter and has appealed to mineworkers and the nation at large to confront the company should it proceed with litigation on the matter.
5.2 Submission of performance reports
We also call on companies to honour their obligation to submit honest performance reports with regard to set out targets .The tendency of companies to submit reports on demand by the state must be eradicated because it shift away the responsibility of the companies into a burden of the state which we think is gross ill-discipline and must stop with immediate effect.
6. Illegal mining
The NEC is concerned that poor people are made to take risks for pittance while syndicates derive pleasure and extract millions from illegal mining .When the foot soldiers are arrested and charged the real big guns of organised crime are never put to book.
The desperate unemployed poor people are lured into the cycle of dirty money so long the big guns are not effectively pursued .in this regards NUM calls on government to intensify efforts to track down the kingpins of illegal mining operations in order to protect the poor from falling prey to this dangerous cycle.
This also undermines the South African economy and it cannot be left unattended .Any business and government that is serious about its people must take urgent steps to tackle this .This NEC further urges all companies to put more effort and seriousness to close and tighten deserted mines .illegal mining is not only a manifestation of negligence by mining companies it is also a challenge to the security of the state and must be responded to accordingly.
7. COSATU and internal wrangling
The NEC urges all affiliates of Cosatu to work towards unity and preservation of the Federation. Therefore it calls on some Cosatu affiliates to refrain from the path of self-destruction and auto-immunity disorder.
NUM believes that the decisions taken by NUMSA in its December 2013 conference would eventually undermine worker unity and weaken Cosatu which unwittingly may serve the interest of the enemy. It is the view of the NEC that NUMSA can spare resources to contribute to the strengthening of Cosatu than spend a lot of resources to fight the Federation form inside.
This does not mean that NUMSA and other affiliates should not be critical of the Federation but they can do so while helping to strengthen it and not drilling forward towards its demise .The Morgan Shangirayi option may only serve to isolate the workers more from the broader struggle of the working class and urge all unions led by NUMSA to relook at their choices.
The NEC supported fully the decisions of the Cosatu Central Executive Committee in relation to the NUMSA posture. The NEC calls on the Cosatu to be decisive in dealing with misdemeanour within the federation on errant behaviour.
8. National Elections
The NEC is urging its members and officials to support the ANC in its electioneering campaigns to ensure that it wins the forth coming elections in 2014.The NEC urges the ANC not to undermine the frustrations of communities who have taken their grievances to the streets. The NEC believes that their concerns are genuine and need to be attended to urgently.
While the wisdom of the masses must be respected it cannot justify the destruction to private and public property .Thus NUM calls on communities to find legal and effective ways to register their dissatisfaction and all must be lodged into action for an ANC victory .
For further information contact the following:
Frans Baleni: 0823756443 General Secretary
Livhuwani Mammburu: 083 809 3257 (Acting NUM National spokesperson)
National Union of Mineworkers
7 Rissik Street
Tel: 011 377 2111