22 February 2013

South Africa: Peace Framework for SA Mining

The government and major role players in South African platinum mining have signed a framework agreement to secure peace and stability in the sector following a resurgence of violence at a mine near Rustenburg in North West province on Monday.

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu assembled a meeting of role players in Pretoria after clashes in which 13 people were injured, reportedly because of rivalry between workers' unions, at Anglo American Platinum's (Amplats') Siphumelele mine in Rustenburg.

Represented at the meeting were Amplats management, the Chamber of Mines of SA, and trade unions the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the Association for Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), UASA and Solidarity.

Intolerance out, respect in

On Thursday, following three days of negotiations, Shabangu said that a framework for peace and stability in the industry had been agreed on, and that a task team constituted by all the role players would oversee its implementation.

According to the framework, violence, intimidation, lack of respect, and intolerance for different views, as well as for freedom of association and disassociation from trade unions, should be eradicated. Instead, respect for life and property, the rule of law, and existing agreements and policies, should prevail.

Shabangu - flanked by representatives from Amplats, the Chamber of Mines, the NUM, Numsa, UASA and Solidarity - briefed the media on the signing of the framework.

She said the government had responded immediately to Monday's violence in order to prevent a repeat of the tragedy that took place at Marikana in August.

Shabangu stressed the importance of creating an environment where workers were able to do their work, adding that the signing of the agreement would lead to the start of a healing process among all parties.

Confident Amcu will sign

While the Association for Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) was not present at Thursday's signing, the union was involved in the negotiation process that began on Tuesday, and Shabangu was confident that the union would sign the agreement.

"Sadly, Amcu is not here. We've never left them behind. We've been trying to get hold of them," she said.

The minister said the parties were all committed to restoring stability to South Africa's mining industry.

"We are committed to normalising the mining sector. We don't want to go back to last year. Past experiences are lessons of ensuring the future won't be the same ... We can't have a sector in turmoil."


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