South Africa: Num Will Not Sign a Wage Agreement With Kumba Iron Ore Until the Company Reverses Its Decision to Reduce Sick Leave Days

press release

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) reiterates its call that it made before that it is not going to sign a wage agreement with Kumba Iron Ore after the company decided to reduce 120 sick leave days in a cycle of three years to only 30 days. We must put it on record as the NUM that this is a company demand to reduce the sick leave days.

The NUM has agreed on a wage increment of 8% for the lowest-paid workers and 6,5% for the highest-paid workers. The NUM and the company are in agreement when it comes to wage increases and other benefits.

Kumba Iron Ore must stop threatening our members to sign the wage agreement saying they are losing income every day and also saying that there is no guarantee of the increases being paid on a backdated basis once the October payroll closes. The NUM is not going to capitulate on its demand of 120 sick leave days in a cycle of three years. The NUM will not accept the company's demand for reducing the sick leave days to 30 in a cycle of three years.

The NUM is still willing to go back to the CCMA for further negotiations to try and find an amicable solution. No amount of intimidation and threats will work.

The only issue that has stood on the way of the parties signing the agreement is management's demand. For the past donkey years, the company policy on sick leave provides workers with 120 days in a cycle of three years. To our dismay, in a round of negotiations, the company wants to do away with the benefit and condition of employment that workers are used to for all these years just like that.

Attempts to convince the company to deal with the issue differently were not successful and that makes the issue; the only stumbling block to signing off the wage agreement. We are very disappointed with the unreasonable and selfish posture. Our view is that as parties we should sign off the agreement and deal with the company demand in a separate process like we have conceded with some of our demands. In actual fact, we feel that this is unfair to us as workers that for us to get better salaries and conditions of employment we must give away what we already have. This is the perpetual exploitation of workers and the poor. It seems the battle line has been drawn.

At the CCMA level once again, the NUM made a lot of compromises on the majority of issues including wage increase; housing and even giving away some of the demands such as increase on the retirement fund and conceding to their wish of three years agreement. With all those efforts and concessions the stubborn Iron Ore Giant continued to refuse to play their part. We are very disappointed that the company put its selfish interest first more than the thousands of workers who are exploited on a daily basis by the same company.

The NUM remains unshaken and we will fight for our members' demands to the bitter end.

The NUM is ready to find an amicable solution to end the dispute.

For more information, please contact

David Sipunzi, NUM General Secretary, 082 883 7293

Livhuwani Mammburu, NUM National Spokesperson, 083 809 3257

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