Lon­min gives in to Amcu at Marikana

CityPress - - Business - DE­WALD VAN RENS­BURG de­wald.vrens­burg@city­press.co.za

Af­ter four years of try­ing, the As­so­ci­a­tion of Min­ing and Con­struc­tion Union (Amcu) has fi­nally suc­ceeded in get­ting mi­nor­ity unions dere­cog­nised at Lon­min and stripped of their al­ready lim­ited or­gan­i­sa­tional rights.

The Na­tional Union of Minework­ers (NUM), Sol­i­dar­ity and Uasa all re­ceived let­ters last week giv­ing them three months’ no­tice that they will lose their lim­ited rights.

Prac­ti­cally, this means an end to stop or­ders pro­vid­ing them with mem­bers’ union dues as well as los­ing their full-time of­fi­cials and the lim­ited ac­cess they have en­joyed to the Marikana min­ing com­plex to re­cruit and meet with mem­bers.

There is no clear rea­son Lon­min has de­cided to ac­cede to this long-stand­ing Amcu de­mand now, on the fifth an­niver­sary of the Marikana mas­sacre.

Ac­cord­ing to Amcu, it is just a be­lated hon­our­ing of its 2013 recog­ni­tion agree­ment with the com­pany.

Ac­cord­ing to Lon­min, the de­ci­sion followed a re­cent es­ca­la­tion of Amcu’s de­mand that the small unions lose their perks.

The com­pany’s re­cently ap­pointed new ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent for hu­man re­sources, Khaya Ngcwembe, told City Press that the com­pany only caved in now be­cause the union re­cently stepped up its com­plaints and be­came “very in­sis­tent”.

Lon­min’s head of op­er­a­tions, Poena Prinsloo, said that the com­pany had “tried to re­sist, but had no choice”.

Prinsloo said that the smaller unions could still have mem­bers who paid their mem­ber­ship dues di­rectly if they chose.

The three other unions rep­re­sent about 10% of the work­force, said Prinsloo.

Amcu pres­i­dent Joseph Mathun­jwa told City Press noth­ing in par­tic­u­lar hap­pened to fi­nally make Lon­min change its mind, apart form the ar­rival of Ngcwembe.

“We’ve been telling them for all th­ese years. If they have now de­cided to hon­our our agree­ment, that is good for us,” he told City Press.

“We have never been quiet about it,” he said.

In the let­ter ad­dressed to Sol­i­dar­ity, the rea­son given is that “Amcu, as the ma­jor­ity trade union, has ob­jected to the con­tin­ued ex­is­tence of this lim­ited or­gan­i­sa­tional rights agree­ment”.

“This agree­ment is also in breach of the recog­ni­tion agree­ment be­tween Lon­min Platinum and Amcu,” con­tin­ues the let­ter.

Amcu ne­go­ti­ated a so­called win­ner-takes-all recog­ni­tion agree­ment with Lon­min in 2013, set­ting a 30% thresh­old for recog­ni­tion, which trans­lates into roughly 7 425 mem­bers. The three smaller unions to­gether rep­re­sent about 10% of the Lon­min work­force, ac­cord­ing to Prinsloo. That would be around 2 500 work­ers.

More im­por­tantly, the agree­ment col­lapsed the tra­di­tional split be­tween skilled and un­skilled work­ers into separate bar­gain­ing units.

That split al­lowed small unions such as Sol­i­dar­ity and Uasa to get recog­ni­tion for rep­re­sent­ing a share of only the skilled work­force. Af­ter the Amcu deal, they ef­fec­tively needed to in­crease their mem­ber­ship ten­fold to re­tain recog­ni­tion.

In 2014, Lon­min signed deals with Sol­i­dar­ity and Uasa giv­ing them some rights, but no role in wage talks. The NUM was also al­lowed stop-or­der rights.

Joseph Mathun­jwa

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