PLATINUM GROUP METALS
NUM wants to exit existing South African mine wage agreements
South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) wants to exit its existing wage agreements with the SA Chamber of Mines and for 2013 wage negotiations to be brought forward
Posted: Friday , 14 Sep 2012
JOHANNESBURG (Mineweb) -
The National Union of Mineworkers has said that it will be making a submission to the Chamber of Mines to commence with wage negotiations, originally scheduled for June 2013, as soon as possible.
The union also called for the urgent establishment of a centralised bargaining forum for the platinum sector to consider conditions of employment regardless of existing wage agreements.
General secretary, Frans Baleni said that all unions, including the likes of AMCU, who have recognition status should be invited to participate in this forum.
The union's third proposal was for the establishment of a commission of enquiry into the conditions of service and living conditions of mine workers.
The union was addressing media in Johannesburg today after it had held a briefing with deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe it said.
It would also be submitting an amendment to the terms of reference of the judicial commission of enquiry, the union said, into the Marikana incident.
The proposal, it said, would be to extend the enquiry so that it included the strikes at Impala Platinum earlier in the year in order to show the trends of events.
Baleni was scathing of Implats saying that the miner had acted outside of its existing wage agreement with the union by giving its employees an annual wage increase earlier in the year after a crippling six week strike.
This it said was now leading to rock drill operators demanding a second increase in line with the existing NUM wage agreement as workers felt that the increase given in April was merely an incentive to return to work and not part of the wage agreement.
‘We have no qualms with that" said Baleni, inferring that the mine was getting what it deserved for acting outside the existing wage agreements.
As far as the current strikes were concerned, Baleni raised concerns over the ‘alarming proportions' of intimidation and violence saying that there was propensity for an explosion of sorts.
"It has reached a point where our members want to arm themselves and defend themselves and their organisation....we urge the law enforcement agencies to do their work without fear or favour" said Baleni.
With the 45th body to be found at Marikana belonging to NUM shop steward, Dumisani Mthinti, the union said that his death had come about due to his ‘contrary views' to those of the strikers when he suggested that workers pursue their demands while back at work.
Political intervention was necessary said Baleni given that some of the workers' demands were directed at government or state. This, he said, was the demand for lower taxes on wages and tax exemptions for bonus pay-outs from workers at Gold Field's KDC West.
The call for the mines to be made ungovernable by Julius Malema said Baleni was also a political campaign that required political intervention at the level of the alliance.
This comes after a fourth miner announced it had closed its doors today.
Aquarius Platinum's Kroondal mine was also closed today given the rising tensions and protests within the regional workforce and communities the miner said.
Kroondal is the only major producing operation left for the miner in South Africa after it put its Everest and Marikana operations on care and maintenance earlier this year. Kroondal made a gross loss of US$32m for the financial year ended 30 June 2012.
Aquarius was hoping to resume operations on Sunday evening it said.
NUM said that it had received reports that approximately 800 to 1000 workers had visited the likes of Kroondal, and Xstrata and Samancor's chrome operations in the area - and Lonmin K4 shaft section contractor Murray & Roberts in order to stop those operations.
Meanwhile the wage negotiations at Lonmin are continuing with the miner making an offer to workers late last night.
Lonmin CEO Simon Scott said "More than 25 000 of Lonmin's 28 000 staff and 10 000 contractors have not been on the illegal strike but have been prevented from their right to earn a living through intimidation and violence".
The offer made by Lonmin, said NUM, included the upgrading of entry level 3 workers to a level 4 grading which amounted to an increase of approximately R900 in basic wage (excluding allowances and company contributions) from R4600 to R5500 per month.
The upgrading of operators from a category 4 to B1 to increase basic salaries for this category to around R6000 per month as well as an additional R750 monthly allowance for rock drill operators and R250 for assistants was also part of Lonmin's offer the union said.
The union admitted that it was unable to respond effectively to the offer made by Lonmin as it could not address its members due to the on-going violence. Baleni said that it needed for the workers to disarm and gather in a neutral venue like a stadium for it to be able to address them.
"We have been told that some of the [employee] representatives have rejected this offer and that they have tabled a revised demand of R12 499" said Baleni.
Lonmin re-affirmed its offer late this afternoon confirming that there had been no real movement on the workers' demands. Talks are scheduled to resume again on Monday at 10am.