Three contractors appointed at Impala Platinum’s mines in Rustenburg, North West, have expressed their views on some of the claims made by National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), which is currently carrying out strike action at the mines.
The three contractors, Newrak Mining, Triple M Mining and Reagetswe Mining, say the strike action is “regrettable” and follows several other unprotected strikes called by the union in the past year, including a two-month strike in mid-2021.
Losses from the current strike have amounted to R30-million, and it puts job security at risk, the companies note.
In response to Numsa’s demands for union recognition, the contractors explain that there are different circumstances applying at each company. While Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union is the majority union at Reagetswe and Triple M, representing between 16% and 26% of their employees, Numsa is the largest union at Newrak and is recognised by the company.
At Triple M, Numsa was reportedly given some organising rights to enable it to improve its representation; however, after 14 months, the union was unable to reach that goal.
Despite Numsa being the largest union at Newrak, the company says it cannot offer the union members access rights on Impala’s property; instead, it was offered office facilities outside the Impala property, but the union rejected the offer.
The contractors explain further that Reagetswe earlier this week won an interdict against the latest strike, declaring it unprotected and directed employees to return to work. The other two companies will apply for interdicts in the remainder of the week.
Addressing some of Numsa’s claims made about “exploitative” wages and a lack of benefits, particularly that some employees only earn R5 000 a month, the companies clarified that no employee earns near that low amount for a full month’s work.
The contractors assured that employees for all three companies receive medical and retirement fund benefits, as well as living-out allowances and funeral cover.
“It is essential to note that the three contractor companies are commissioned to undertake a very different type of mining from standard Impala operations. We are hired to mine shorter-life and hence higher-cost mines.
“This means that our cost structures are very different. One of the shafts was identified for closure by Implats in 2017 and is being mined by one of the contractor companies, preserving 3 000 jobs over the past five years.
“It would be helpful if Numsa were to recognise these facts, and allow its members to continue to sustain the lives of the mines, their own livelihoods and the sustainability of the companies,” the contractors conclude.