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Thousand of miners to protest at bosses’ divide-and-rule bid

by James Tweedie

MORE than 7,000 platinum miners will march today against the “witch-hunting and victimisation” of their union, four years on from the Marikana killings.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said bosses at Northam Platinum in Rustenburg had built a “cosy relationship” with the breakaway Association of Mining and Construction Union (Amcu) to the detriment of the majority NUM.

NUM Rustenburg regional secretary Desmond Mfuloane accused the firm of breaking the Labour Relations Act to promote Amcu.

He said management was giving Amcu access to mine premises and allowing it to post notices when it did not meet the membership threshold, in breach of the union recognition agreement.

Mr Mfuloane further accused Northam of suspending and charging NUM members without due cause and even having them arrested without allowing them to change out of wet work clothes.

Amcu members were not being charged for similar offences, he said.

The NUM demanded the sacking of Northam chief executive Paul Dunne and guarantees from the chairman and board that the victimisation would end.

“Paul Dunne has a history of dividing workers and unions,” Mr Mfuloane said, referring to his role in the Impala Platinum dispute.

The Northam allegations were reminiscent of the events in 2012 leading up to the shooting of 34 Amcu members by police at the nearby Marikana mine, which is owned by Britain’s Lonmin.

In the week prior to the incident, 10 people were murdered at the mine by striking Amcu members, including NUM shop stewards, security guards and police, whose firearms were stolen.

Lonmin had previously granted Amcu unprecedented access to organise at the mine and broken its wage agreement with the NUM to raise wages for some workers, thus engineering a dispute.

It then threatened NUM members with the sack if they did not come to work during the strike organised by the breakaway.

Since then, many more NUM members have been targeted in Marikana.

This Tuesday marked the fourth anniversary of the events, with the ruling African National Congress and South African Communist Party urging Lonmin to honour its agreements to improve housing and other conditions in the town.

The Communist Party called for the country’s mineral resources to be used to drive “industrialisation, sustainable, non-racial urbanisation to look after the needs of our society.”


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