JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) general-secretary Frans Baleni on Thursday accused platinum mining companies of undermining bargaining processes, adding that it was a contributing factor to the violence that broke out at Lonmin’s Marikana mine over the past week.
Speaking at a press conference addressing the situation at the North West mine, where ten people died since the violence started last Friday, Baleni said that the trend of undermining bargaining processes had its roots at Impala Platinum (Implats), claiming that the world’s second-largest producer had adjusted wages for certain categories of employees, leaving others out.
The NUM said that by ignoring an existing collective agreement, Implats undermined the bargaining process by offering an allowance of about R750 a month to rock drill operators outside the bargaining process.
“That led to opportunists mobilising other sections of workers, telling them that they do not receive the same salaries.
“Lonmin has not learned lessons from the Impala saga,” Baleni said.
A similar round of violence in early 2012 led to the death of three people and the closure of Implats’ Rustenburg platinum mine for six weeks.
Baleni also accused mining companies of failing to comply with transformation targets, the mining charter and social labour plans. “The poor response from the mining industry to comply with this agenda does create this conducive environment for opportunists and criminals,” he stated.
The NUM leader added that the lack of law enforcement in the North West platinum fields was worrying. “There has been no success in prosecution, which encourages criminals, as there is no consequence. We are extremely disappointed in the ill-preparedness of the law enforcement.”
Further, the NUM said that defocused intelligence in the province led to high levels of corruption in the system, where dockets disappeared.
It also pointed a finger at the Chamber of Mines, stating that it should take full responsibility for the challenges the mining industry faced, as many of these challenges were as a result of the chamber’s inactions.
Meanwhile, Baleni appealed to NUM members to return to work and for the law enforcement agencies to crack down on the culprits of the violence and murders. “Our members are more than ready to report back for work . . . We will resist any dismissal [as] our members have made themselves available. The employer is failing to provide a safe passage for them to do so,” Baleni added.
Three of the seven deceased mineworkers at Lonmin were members of the NUM, one of Uasa, while three others were not yet identified. Two policemen and two security guards also died in the violent clashes.