Pretoria — Trade union Amcu abstained from signing the a framework agreement for the mining industry, endorsed in Pretoria by numerous mining roleplayers, on Wednesday.
The pact, brokered by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, was aimed at resolving the issues bedevilling the mining sector.
Addressing reporters after a lengthy meeting attended by senior officials of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and its rival National Union of Mineworkers, Motlanthe said he hoped Amcu would sign soon.
"They requested that they would want to get a mandate to sign [from members]. They are not going to canvass on the content. That has been agreed on," he said.
"They will revert back to the secretary of this forum ASAP. They say they want time to go back to their members."
Asked how much time Amcu needed to consult its constituencies, Motlanthe said he expected the union to revert "sooner than yesterday".
He said the union had not presented any preconditions for signing the pact.
"We wanted a working document which addresses the core problems in the industry and also to remove irritants. There is no conditionality about it," he said.
"They didn't set any preconditions. In the meeting, Amcu said they have nothing against the framework. The document contains all the input from stakeholders, Amcu included, so it is their document as much as it is ours."
The document has been signed by Chamber of Mines' vice president Mike Teke, Federation of Unions of SA general secretary Dennis George, Congress of SA Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, and Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu.
Senior Amcu officials, led by president Joseph Mathunjwa, attended the talks.
Motlanthe said the parties which assented to the agreement had undertaken to uphold the rule of law in South Africa.
"The first line of giving effect to this framework lies with all stakeholders to adhere to the rule of law. Above that, the security cluster in government will ensure that anybody who breaks the law will be apprehended," he said.
"Deterring is a function of knowledge that you can't get away with breaking the law."
Motlanthe said the framework also dealt with the verification of union membership and representation in mines.
"The framework gives direction on how issues of verification (of union members) should be handled."
President Jacob Zuma has tasked Motlanthe with leading talks between unions and mining companies.
The industry had been plagued by strikes and violence, especially in the Rustenburg platinum belt.
Last year, 34 miners were shot dead and 78 were wounded on August 16 when police opened fire on them while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near Lonmin's platinum mine.
In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, died in strike-related violence.