Press Statement, 02 December 2022
40th anniversary celebration media statement - press conference held in Polokwane
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) this year on the 4th of December 2022 will be commemorating and celebrating its 40th years of existence.
Established on the 4th December 1982 in Klerksdorp today known as Mat- losana, the NUM has throughout been the only voice of the voiceless workers in the mining, construction and energy sectors. Recently, it expanded its scope to organise the metal sector workers.
Its history began when Cyril Ramaphosa, a young imminent legal officer with the Council of Unions of South Africa (CUSA) was assigned with a task of forming a black mineworkers union in July 1982.
He surrounded himself with a small group of senior black workers from Anglo American Corporation gold mines. Within few weeks of starting this task, the National Union of Mineworkers was formed and in no time it was recognised by the Chamber of Mines.
The union held its first congress from the 03rd to 04th of December 1982 in the township of Jouberton (Klerksdorp). The NUM since its formation has been part of the liberation movement and struggle; working side by side with the SACP and the ANC, in the struggle to overthrow the apartheid government. The union played a critical and unique role in realizing the break through that led to first democratic elections in South African history on 27 April 1994.
It is through its gallant fight that miners who have for many years of service given only a helmet and a pair of boots on their retirement and are today able to receive retirements benefits.
When the NUM was formed 40 years ago it organised in an environment where killings, unlawful arrests, and detentions were very rife.
The security forces were very brutal to the mineworkers while mining con- glomerates together with the apartheid regime waged a brutal war on the mineworkers. This combination of state and capital harassment and brutality on workers violated their human rights and took away their dignity. However, with its organisational capacity the union withstood the test of time and sur- vived till today.
Health and Safety
The NUM led the 1987 strike which took 21 historic days. Amongst other de- mands the NUM demand health & safety at the workplace and that led to the Mine Health and Safety Act being ordained in 1996. This are some of the achievements we pride ourselves with as the organization.
The mining sector at that time was heavily entrenched with discriminatory systems; including white only retirement funds while their black counterparts had nothing to show upon retirement.
Once again the NUM was at the forefront of fighting for the introduction of re- tirement fund in particular for the discriminated black mineworkers. At end of the historic strike of 1987 amongst other gains the NUM won the right to have retirement fund for black mineworkers. In 1989, Mineworkers Provident Fund (MPF) was found all workers for the first had the right to retire with dignity.
The NUM demonstrated an unprecedented power in South African trade unionism by holding out for three weeks under difficult times including brutali- ty of the apartheid system. The formation of the MPF and many other gains at the time came at a huge price many of members got dismissed; detained and even killed by the security forces of the time. Black mineworkers were denied the rights to be members of any retirement fund while their white counterparts enjoyed this privilege. The NUM is the one that made sure that mineworkers enjoy this privilege and no other union can claim this great achievement.
The NUM has also been instrumental in negotiating other retirement Funds e.g. Construction Industry Retirement Fund Benefit Fund (CIRBF) which is within the construction industry as well as the Eskom Pension Provident Fund, which is the Energy Sector Fund.
The NUM was the first union to adopt the Freedom Charter and also adopted Comrade Nelson Mandela as its honorary lifetime President during the height of the apartheid regime and when it was not fashionable to do so.
Achievement of burial in dignity
The NUM also fought hard to make sure that mineworkers who die under- ground due to mining fatalities should be buried in their places of origin pre- ferred by their families.
In the past, black mineworkers who died due to mine accidents and tribal conflicts were buried in the cemeteries around their places of work or the mines. Today mineworkers are given a dignified burial.
The NUM has ever since believed in education as a means to empower and liberate a black child. It is against this background that; the union established the training centre and named it after its late deputy President “Elijah Barayi Memorial Training Center (EBMTC) in 1993. Members and elected shop- stewards continue to be trained in this institution.
The organization further introduced; the JB Marks Education Trust Fund in 1997 and named it after the first President of the African Miners Union and this year, the Trust celebrates its 23rd anniversary milestone. Over the past two decades, JB Marks has provided bursaries for members of the NUM and their families; ultimately enabling 1121 bursars to graduate with mainstream qualifications (including more than 20 medical doctors).
What makes the JB Marks Education Trust Fund particularly important to the general upliftment of the community is its interest in the dependents of the NUM members, of whom many have received educational bursaries.
As the NUM, we have deliberately and consciously placed ourselves at the forefront of championing the national effort of educating and empowering the dependents of our members. Education of an individual is by definition edu- cation of a society.
The NUM through the JB Marks Education Trust Fund will continue to edu- cate its members and their dependents.
It was the NUM that negotiated for Kumba Iron Ore Envision ESOPs for its members who each received not less than R576 045 for their holding of 3 365 units in Kumba’s Envision ESOPS in 2011, which equated to an after-tax payout of not less than R345 627.
The NUM continued to engage various mining company on ESOPs; some reached vesting period while others are still coming in few years to come.
The NUM has been instrumental in pushing for the conversion of hostels into family units and single units. The NUM fought very hard to bring back the dig- nity of black mineworkers by doing away with overcrowded hostels system of having over sixteen people sharing one room; that has since brought sense of privacy that was never there before.
Amongst other deep rooted discriminatory systems in the mining industry, was allocation of family houses to whites only. Once again the mighty NUM fought very hard for the black mineworkers to be also allocated with houses so that they could stay with their families closer to the workplace.
The NUM has also engaged mining companies through the chamber of mines to sell their housing stock to their employees at a discounted market price. We continue to engage companies to address the housing of workers by cre- ating decent family orientated housing system and inclusive of all workers.
The NUM and the Royal Bafokeng Platinum have developed a housing strat- egy that aims to promote home ownership for all its employees in order to create a lasting legacy of sustainable benefits.
As part of the overall Employee Home Ownership Scheme, the NUM and the Royal Bafokeng Platinum celebrated the completion of the first phase of the project at a function held on 16 September 2014 at the Waterkloof Hills Es- tate and handed over the keys to the first new homeowners, of the 422 units that have been completed. More than 3000 units are going to be built as part of addressing the housing problem for mineworkers.
NUM founding General Secretary Cyril Ramaphosa has this to say on why NUM was formed:
"We formed the NUM so that it can be the shield and spear for mineworkers. That is what the NUM was formed for. So that with the spear it can launch at- tacks, it can march forward and eliminate all forms of exploitation and dis- crimination that was levelled against mineworkers. It became a shield be- cause it was only the NUM that could defend mineworkers and it continues to be the only union in the mining industry that can defend mineworkers. The NUM became an important weapon against tribalism. Before the NUM was formed, tribalism was promoted, it was encouraged and it was planted throughout the mining industry. The mining bosses thrived on dividing work- ers and they divided workers along tribal lines."
The NUM is concerned that racism is still rife in the mining, construction, en- ergy and metal sectors. Some of our members are still called with derogatory names and that is unacceptable. As the NUM, we are going to fight tooth and nail to make sure these racist elements are removed in the workplaces per- manently.
The NUM continues to mourn the loss of lives of workers in all the sectors the union is organising in.
On August 16 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were killed and 78 people were wounded at a hill near Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in North West.
In the preceding week, 10 people, including mineworkers, two police officers and two security guards, were killed in the strike-related violence.
The NUM’s call has always been that those victims must also be remem- bered.
It is unfortunate in the sense that what happened then has been projected and used by any disgruntled individuals who want to launch either their politi- cal relevancy at the expense of the plight of the victims.
Instead, the NUM would like to see the immediate implementation of the So- cial Labour Plans that would directly address the issue of housing and local economic development in and around the Marikana areas.
The NUM will continue to fight for the living wage, and ensure that workers are provided with decent accommodation.
The union will also continue to push for transformation in the workplace and ensure there is an improvement of our member's economic welfare in the mining, construction, metal and energy sectors.
The NUM will continue to vigorously campaign for the full implementation of the Framework Agreement by both Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and the Presidency, push for the withdrawal of mining licenses from compa- nies that have failed to comply with the Mining Charter targets.
We will also campaign for full compliance with the Constructions Charter and punitive measures must be undertaken where there is a failure to comply with the companies.
The NUM will continue to campaign against outsourcing, casualization and labour brokering defining the construction sector. We are also worried about the lack of effective monitoring of health and safety compliance in the con- struction sector.
Passing away of six leaders in horrific car accident last Sunday 27 November 2022.
Lastly, we will be celebrating this big 40th anniversary tomorrow with our head bowed. We learnt with big shock last Sunday about the untimely pass- ing away of comrades Bonginkosi Bongz Mrasi (PWV Regional Secretary), Zukile Maskot, Lulama Madyosi, Thantaswa Sikani, Retshidisitswe Mbirha and Dumisani Futshana (who were all Kloof Mine young leaders).
The comrades died in a horrific fatal car accident on the N4 toll road between Middelburg and Emalahleni.
They were driving back to Gauteng after the National Youth Structure Confer- ence in the city of Mbombela in Mpumalanga.
We expected them to be with us here but unfortunately they would not be with us. We are sending our deepest condolences to their families, colleagues and friends, and May Their Souls Rest in Revolutionary Peace.
Hambani Kahle comrades we will always remember you.
The celebration is schedule as follows!
We will start tonight with NUM Presidential Dinner planned to start at 18h00 at Meropa Casino.
We will have a panel of discussion reflecting on the history of NUM, consist- ing of former leaders and officials who contributed to the formation of the mighty union.
We will continue with celebration to Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday the 03/12/22. We are expecting NUM members across the 11 Regions of the NUM to come in thousands and thousands to celebrate this milestone.
Thank you members of the media for joining us and for your coverage of this prestigious event. God bless you!
For more detailed information, please contact:
Mpho Phakedi, NUM Deputy General Secretary, 082 882 3452
Livhuwani Mammburu, NUM National Spokesperson, 083 809 3257
Luphert Chilwane, NUM Media Officer, 083 809 3255
The National Union of Mineworkers
7 Rissik Street.
Cnr Frederick Johannesburg
Tel: 011 377 2111 Cell: 083 809 3257