Fighting job losses
National Union of Mineworkers leaders Eric Gcilitshana, Piet Matosa, David Sipunzi and Joseph Montisetsi discuss retrenchments in the mining industry at a press conference yesterday.
THE NATIONAL Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the biggest organised labour movement in the mining industry, wants President Jacob Zuma to remove Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane amid the jobs bloodbath and the loss of confidence facing the embattled industry.
The union yesterday said 20 000 jobs were on the line as companies planned to close loss making shafts and as 80 000 jobs had been shed in the industry over the past five years.
NUM president Piet Matosa said the union’s relationship with Zwane was the worst of all the ministers who led the portfolio since 1994. Matosa called on Zuma to remove Zwane.
“One of the challenges we face as a union is that he is never available. When we meet him in the activities of the movement he will always behave like he’s been looking for us, whereas when you call him he doesn’t respond,” Matosa said.
“When you raise issues with him he will act as if he understood, but the next day he is going to do something that is completely different from the informal discussions that we normally have.”
Matosa said Zwane always made changes in the department of Mineral Resources without engaging anyone.
Zwane received backlash from the Chamber of Mines for gazetting the Mining Charter III last month without consultation.
The chamber approached the court for the charter to be reviewed and set aside.
Zwane said earlier this month that he planned to place a moratorium on the granting of licences until the finalisation of the court process.
Matosa said yesterday that the proposed moratorium would negatively affect jobs since it would freeze Section 11 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, which deals with approvals on the change of ownership and new mining rights. The union is planning to meet with Zwane over the job losses.
“Now the first thing is to talk to Zwane and raise our views to him that this moratorium is not good for the industry, it is not good for job creation in South Africa and for those who are still employed.
“Well, we hope that he will listen to us, if he doesn’t, the only way to force him to listen to our views is talk to those who are affected – the stakeholders. We have not been engaging with them.”
The union said it had received section 189 notices from AngloGold Ashanti and Bokoni Platinum, who planned to retrench 8 500 and 2 651 workers, respectively.
An additional 3 000 contract workers would also lose their jobs at Bokoni, increasing the figure to more than 5 000.
The Chamber of Mines said yesterday that between 2012 and 2016, the industry lost around 70 000 jobs.
The chamber’s chief executive, Roger Baxter said: “Our industry’s future, and its ability to continue to provide employment and benefits to employees, depends on the ability of its stakeholders (government, labour and mining companies) to actively consult each other and work together.”