South Africa: NUM Slams Ramphele Over Her Contradictions and Dishonesty

The National Union Of Mineworkers (NUM) has noted Goldfields Chair Mamphela Ramphele ' presentation at the Mining Indaba yesterday. The NUM is appalled by the serious contradictions in Ramphele ' presentation. She is Chairperson of Goldfields which has unbundled itself into what is now called Sibanye Gold.

The company has to date refused to enter into any agreement that seek to avert possible job losses as a result of the unbundling whilst at the same time does not want to commit to retain current conditions of service .

Workers are marching to Goldfields tomorrow to demand what is rightfully theirs. When Angloplatinum announced its infamous decision to retrench 14 000 workers, it spoke of the creation of equivalent but unsustainable number of jobs of building houses. In an apparent attempt to justify these, Ramphele argues "defending existing jobs may ultimately be to the detriment of sustaining the industry with new types of jobs yet to be experimented with".

So, as unions we should not be at the forefront of defending existing jobs because there will be future "sustainable " ones which we know are unsustainable. The NUM is acutely aware that the jobs she refers to are short term contractual jobs in construction of building houses and workers would be worse off.

Whilst her focus and the industry 's focus is on short terms jobs, she goes on to accuse the unions of shortermism and she says "worker representatives and unions must shift their mindset from the shortermism to focus more on sustainable livelihoods and higher productivity to enhance the returns for everyone".

Her arguments are seriously flawed, contradictory and lacks honesty. Whilst her company has dismally failed in the areas of skills development and has on a number of occasions become a serious failure on the health and safety front, she argues that unions should put " greater emphasis on demanding higher quality education and training as well as wellness for their members should be primary focus".

The NUM will not be deviated from its primary function of organizing workers and defending jobs simply because industry says our focus must be elsewhere. We reject these so- called proposals with the contempt they deserve and we urge her to lead from the front for charity begins at home.

The self-appointed adviser of capital, the unions and the state argues that as unions we should take a longer term view beyond annual wage increases in a clear attempt to dissuade unions from making serious demands in the impending wage negotiations with the Chamber of Mines.

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