Wednesday, January 26

Platinum mine strained after unionist murder


The murder of a volunteer recruiter for the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) on the steps of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in Rustenburg, has shocked the union and disturbed mine workers in platinum. In the area.

Malibongwe Mdazo was shot dead on 19 August. His assassination is seen as an attempt to prevent Numsa from gaining recognition as the majority union in some platinum mining companies in Rustenburg.

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Numsa was at the CCMA seeking to be recognized as a union that represents the employees of five companies contracted by Impala Platinum Holdings (Implats), where the majority recognized union is the Association of Miners and Construction Union (Amcu).

All five companies provide outsourced employees, known as contract workers, to work on some of Implats’ wells in Rustenburg, said Johan Theron, a spokesman for Implats.

When he was shot, representatives of Mdazo and Numsa were at the CCMA for the conciliation process between Numsa and Newrak, one of the five companies. The CCMA process involved verifying Numsa’s membership forms to determine if Numsa had enough members to be recognized by the company.

According to a Numsa organizer who was present when the attack took place, Mdazo was shot during a break between sessions. The next verification process was supposed to take place with Triple M, another of the five companies, he said. The session was postponed.

The Numsa organizer, who referred to the two gunmen as oxen (hired hitmen) said: “They fired bullets into the air, forcing many of us to take cover, before firing multiple shots at Mdazo.”

In a statement issued by Numsa on August 19, its secretary general, Irvin Jim, said: “The killers also shot and wounded [another] Numsa member and member of the public. ”

“Numsa is very clear that Comrade Mdazo’s murder is because he hired workers at Implats, and we believe that his work is the reason why they took his life,” Jim said.

After the incident, the CCMA initially told the SABC that a fight had broken out between the Amcu members and Numsa, before the shots were fired. But Jeff Mphahlele, Amcu general secretary, said there were no Amcu members outside the CCMA on the day of the shooting and that there were no skirmishes.

“I spoke with Amcu’s regional leadership in Rustenburg and they confirmed that the CCMA statement is not true. We have instructed our attorneys to act against this statement, ”he said.

On Tuesday, the CCMA acknowledged that they had made a mistake and published a Sorry to Amcu on their website.

When asked if the CCMA’s misstatement fueled tensions between Amcu and Numsa at the Implats mines, Mphahlele said no.

“What creates tension is the intimidation and forced recruitment of members of companies where Amcu is the majority,” he said. Mphahlele accused Numsa of using intimidation tactics to recruit workers and forcing workers to join what he called a “wildcat strike.”

In June and July, a three-week strike led by Numsa took place. According to Jim, Mdazo was one of the leaders of this strike. The workers demanded higher wages, a living allowance, provision of health care for contract workers, as well as recognition of Numsa as the majority union.

But, because Numsa has not yet been recognized, more than 4,000 contract workers were fired for participating in the unprotected strike.

Mphahlele said Amcu had to fight for many of the workers who participated in the strike to be reinstated.

Later, Numsa accused Amcu of using reinstatement to force workers to sign Amcu membership forms. A contract worker, a member of Numsa, who said he earned R5,500 a month, said he had two options once the strike ended: sign an Amcu membership form or sign a final written warning.

“I signed the final written warning because I refuse to pay the membership dues of a union that does not represent me. Amcu does not represent contract workers, ”he said.

Mphahlele denied that the workers were forced to sign Amcu membership forms. “We fully support the hiring of workers in a professional manner. After the strike, we talked to the workers and recruited those who wanted to rejoin Amcu or join for the first time, ”he said.

During meetings held by Numsa on Sunday, Enock Manyoni, a Numsa organizer, said: “The people who murdered Mdazo wanted to derail Numsa’s efforts to be recognized as the majority union. There are people who do not want to see Numsa as the majority union and we will not flinch. We will continue on behalf of Mdazo ”.

The first meeting took place near axis 9 of Implats and was attended by more than 300 people. The second meeting took place near axis 6 and attendance was slightly lower.

According to Numsa, the meetings were to address Mdazo’s death and update workers on the CCMA process.

With Mdazo’s killers still at large, Manyoni told the crowd: “The person who killed Mdazo could be among us as we speak. We are not safe. We need the police to do their job, otherwise, we will have to defend ourselves. ”

The Numsa leaders present at the meeting were guarded by bodyguards and left immediately after addressing the workers. Many of those present also dispersed almost immediately, saying that it was not safe for them to walk around.

The police are investigating the murder.

© 2021 GroundUp. This article was published for the first time here.


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