Warn­ing of union ri­valry at Lonmin

Ma­jor­ity recog­ni­tion for Amcu

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Di­neo Faku

JOSEPH Mathun­jwa, pres­i­dent of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Minework­ers and Con­struc­tion Union (Amcu) yes­ter­day shrugged off ac­cu­sa­tions that the union had been favoured at Lonmin at the ex­pense of mi­nor­ity unions, as trade union Sol­i­dar­ity warned that the com­pany had sparked union ri­valry.

Mathun­jwa told jour­nal­ists in Jo­han­nes­burg yes­ter­day that Amcu had a mem­ber­ship of 200 000 na­tion­wide and en­joyed ma­jor­ity recog­ni­tion at Lonmin, the world’s third largest plat­inum pro­ducer.

“The Na­tional Union of Minework­ers (NUM), Sol­i­dar­ity and United As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa (Uasa) have been babysat by Lonmin chief ex­ec­u­tive, Ben Ma­gara, quite for some time.

“We have been rais­ing this issue un­til such time we de­cided to act. It is not that Lonmin is favour­ing Amcu, it is an agree­ment of which these unions where they are a ma­jor­ity we are bound by their agree­ment. So what is dif­fer­ent when Amcu is a ma­jor­ity at Lonmin?” he asked.

Mathun­jwa’s com­ments come just un­der a week be­fore Lonmin marks the fifth an­niver­sary of the Marikana Mas­sacre, in which 34 minework­ers were gunned down by po­lice dur­ing an il­le­gal wage strike in mid-Au­gust 2012.

Amcu also led 80 000 minework­ers in a five month wage strike in 2014 in South Africa’s plat­inum sec­tor, which re­sulted in pro­duc­ers An­glo Amer­i­can Plat­inum, Impala Plat­inum and Lonmin los­ing pro­duc­tion.

Lonmin ear­lier this month gave Sol­i­dar­ity, NUM and Uasa no­tice that their lim­ited or­gan­i­sa­tional rights would be ter­mi­nated af­ter fall­ing be­low thresh­olds.

Sol­i­dar­ity’s gen­eral sec­re­tary, Gideon Du Plessis, took ex­cep­tion and yes­ter­day penned an open let­ter to Ma­gara, warn­ing the move would re­sult in union ri­valry rear­ing its ugly head a the com­pany.

“Don’t you re­alise that the uni­lat­eral ter­mi­na­tion of our union’s recog­ni­tion not only has de­stroyed your cred­i­bil­ity, but will also in­crease union ri­valry?

“It will also re­sult in skilled em­ploy­ees, whose rights are vi­o­lated, los­ing their mo­ti­va­tion and loy­alty to­wards Lonmin and that will lead to a drop in pro­duc­tiv­ity,” Du Plessis said.

Lonmin had ter­mi­nated Sol­i­dar­ity’s recog­ni­tion in 2014, and made an about-turn af­ter meet­ings be­tween Ma­gara and Du Plessis at up­mar­ket ho­tels in Jo­han­nes­burg and held even a one-on-one meet­ing in Ma­gara’s of­fice, Du Plessis said in the let­ter.

Sol­i­dar­ity mem­bers were the ones who put their lives on the line to keep pro­duc­tion go­ing dur­ing the five month strike, claimed Du Plessis.

“What has me fu­ri­ous right now is that dur­ing our pri­vate dis­cus­sions three years ago and even at the time of sign­ing the lim­ited rights agree­ment in Au­gust 2014, you gave your word that our recog­ni­tion rights would be safe­guarded in fu­ture and that you would per­son­ally look af­ter the in­ter­ests of Sol­i­dar­ity and its skilled mem­bers,” said Du Plessis.

Sol­i­dar­ity re­ceived a let­ter from Lonmin’s new hu­man re­sources head, Kaya Ngcwembe, that lim­ited or­gan­i­sa­tional rights agree­ment with the union was in breach of the recog­ni­tion agree­ment be­tween Lonmin and Amcu.

“Don’t you and your new head of hu­man re­source re­alise that the fact that Lonmin has been pick­ing up again dur­ing the past cou­ple of months is also due to your skilled work­ers who have been go­ing the ex­tra mile to do more than what they are con­trac­tu­ally and legally obliged to do?”

‘The fact that Lonmin has been pick­ing up again dur­ing the past cou­ple of months is also due to your skilled work­ers.’

PHOTO: SIM­PHIWE MBOKAZI

Amcu pres­i­dent Joseph Mathun­jwa up­dat­ing the me­dia on their ne­go­ti­a­tions with the gold sec­tor in Rose­bank, Jo­han­nes­burg, yes­ter­day. Amcu has a mem­ber­ship of 200 000 na­tion­wide and en­joys ma­jor­ity recog­ni­tion at Lonmin.

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