Warning of union rivalry at Lonmin
Majority recognition for Amcu
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.’
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.