26 June 2014

South Africa: Hollow Victory Whose Sham Is Shrouded By Exhaustion and Rhetoric

press release

1. End of self-devouring turmoil

The National Union of Mineworkers notes the end of the violent strike and laments its tragic impact on workers, families, the economy, labour sending and surrounding communities. The principal enemy of the workers speaks of profit loss to companies and have not experience personal loss to the magnitude of the mineworker during the strike which was devouring the sustainability and livelihood of those it was meant to serve. No single employer is counted amongst the dead and the displaced during the strike.

2. Worker losses

NUM will be holding its Central Committee on the 2nd July 2014 where it will make deep and overall analysis of the mining sector. But it is worth indicating that the strike destroyed local economic activities which sustained people in terms of jobs. Furthermore the reality is that mine-workers did not receive R12 500 per month as promised by their union which was the primary demand for the last five months.

This shameful retreat was imposed by the fact that some striking workers had become financially desperate and had already started taking the risk of going to work after companies directly contacted them against AMCU's will. According to analysts the overall effect is that the striking workers sacrificed between R42 501 - R52 000 per worker to gain only R932 per month, which is not worth celebrating. Thus the workers are celebrating the end of the strike more than achieving their primary demand which was the cornerstone of their strike resolve.

Furthermore a number of properties have been destroyed belonging to workers themselves with no prospects of recovery and their loss is not covered by the agreement. Some of the workers have been displaced from their homes for the entirety of the strike in fear of being killed which affected their families. Workers were killed to enforce solidarity which was unnecessary and unjustifiable. No sound minded leader of the workers would celebrate such consequences and human costs with long term effects.

3. Platinum stock-piles cushion

NUM also notes the alleged loss on the employers themselves but believes that companies used the accumulated platinum stockpiles to offset the impact of the strike which they have done successfully. Hence they were able to endure the five months strike period and still settled at their own terms. In addition they were entitled to trade through the stock piles while not having to pay any workers during the strike which was beneficial for them in money terms while workers in earnest lost R10 .6 billion in wages.

4. Health and safety

We call on the employers to take precautionary measures to ensure the safety of workers is preserved given that some shafts were not in operations and therefore pose serious threat to life and limb .We also call upon the companies to facilitate counselling for all workers and their families who have been adversely affected by the strike.

5. COSATU statement

NUM regret the gross misrepresentation of COSATU Bargaining Conference resolutions in March 2013 by Patrick Craven, the spokesperson of COSATU. The conference never pronounced on R12 500 as a minimum of acceptable wage for mineworkers or any of the sectors and affiliates.

Therefore it is highly irresponsible and opportunistic to jockey on the current platinum sector outcomes at the expense of a true reflection of the Federation's policy position.

6. Central Committee

In this context NUM will bring out a comprehensive response to all issues affecting the mining, construction, and energy sectors.

The Mining Charter in which NUM played a predominant role is a legislative tool intended to redress the historical imbalances and empower workers. We will continue to be advocates of compliance because sustainable material benefit must be linked to salaries to empower workers financially. We commit to continue uniting workers because in unity there is strength.

7. Retrenchments and restructuring

It is also clear that there would be restructuring and lay-offs as already the cracks are emerging in the interpretation of the agreement. For instance Anglo Platinum has already indicated that it has not committed to guaranteeing that there will be no job losses. Lonmin has indicated that it is not aware of "no job cuts" clause in the wage deal. Soon time will tell who holds the truth.

8. Law enforcement

We call on government to create stability in the affected areas in bringing normality to mineworker communities in the platinum belt. All criminals without exception must be held criminally liable. Now that the strike has ended we expect that the right of workers to belong to the union of their choice will be reinstated and protected.

NUM wishes to warn employers not to bow to a lobby-campaign to identify workers who have been attending to their employment. It is the responsibility of employers to protect all employees who have exercised their right to go to work or to strike.

9. Rights and Transformation

NUM will continue to embrace all efforts to push for transformation of the mining sector including expediting the employee share schemes to empower workers and communities without trading these with sacrifice of right to free speech, freedom of association, including the right to life.

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