Platinum mine strike not good for the workers
The strike in the platinum mine which started on 23rd January 2014 is now about to complete its sixth week, yet there is no reasonable movement from either the employers or the union.
In the meantime workers are at home not because of their liking but because they fear for their lives if they go to work. Some companies have placed their employees on is reported to be special leave, while the reality is that this leave will be taken from their leave days in the coming year and this might force some workers to work up to forty-eight months without taking leave as they would have taken their leave in advance; this is against the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
Every week there are reports of violence in the mines, meted against those who attempt to go to work, while some workers have indicated that they want to leave the striking union but they are unable to do so as they fear for their lives. This was illustrated when a car of one lady was burnt after she indicated so.
From the COSATU side we have cautioned in the past that the situation in the platinum mines, if left unattended, will lead to something which will be uncontrollable and this strike is a confirmation of what we said.
COSATU has several times called for the intervention from the provincial government, national government and the mine bosses to look at the situation in the mines seriously and take action.
COSATU has called for the respect of the rule of law and the enforcement of such rule by all the state law enforcement agencies.
COSATU has always raised a caution on the failure of the other union to sign the peace accord as this is an indication of their non-commitment to peace.
COSATU has again raised a caution on the violation of the labour laws and internal labour related policies by some companies in the platinum mines, and in this regard Impala is leading.
COSATU has made many attempts to get all stake-holders to give attention to what is taking place in the platinum mines but all the calls fell on deaf ears.
COSATU further notes that the effect of the strike is not only on the mine workers but it trickles down to the Rustenburg area and the North West province and eventually the whole country will be affected by this strike.
COSATU notes that the working conditions of most workers in our country are unbearable and their wages are still very low, but COSATU believes that these conditions cannot be addressed by worsening them.
COSATU also notes that most companies present very impressive social labour plans when they are requesting government to grant them mining licenses but these plans remain on paper and are not implemented by the companies, e.g. most mine workers do still not have ownership of houses.
COSATU believes that proper interaction through dialogue is the only solution to the challenges which are facing the workers in the country and no amount of violence will resolve this challenge. Forming one union or another is not going resolve the workers' problems and this is an indication of workers being forced to join the union that they did not want.
We call all workers in the mining sector to revisit their decisions if they were forced to resign from NUM in 2012 and join the other union.
It is clear that NUM is the only union that can take up their issues and call workers to come back and build a strong COSATU-affiliated NUM union in the mines.
COSATU calls on the Department of Mineral Resources to do an inspection on the implementation of the social labour plans in all the mines in the country.
Those which will be found to be behind with these plans must come up with a catch-up plan on how they are going to implement them, failing which the mining licenses of these companies must be withdrawn and be given to companies which are willing to comply with their plans.
The department should also make sure that there is compliance with all the provisions of the Mining and Petroleum Resources Development Act.
COSATU calls on the government to convene a labour summit where there will be binding resolutions taken to improve the working conditions and the wages of the workers in all sectors of the economy.
COSATU has been calling for a legislated minimum wage as we believe that this will improve the income of most workers and will assist them to get out of poverty.
We are also calling all unions to assess all strikes in the mines and come up of way forward to resolve all disputes of violence.
Since the strike in the mining sector in 2011, we have lost many lives; many workers are disabled; many families are without parents due to the mining sector violence and only African black workers are affected in this situation.
Workers' rights must be respected by all of us and all mining houses must take responsibilities for all crimes that took place in the mining sector in particular in Rustenburg.
As the federation unapologetic, Impala must respond to all those criminal activities that took since 2011 until today.
We are still calling for the president of our country to call for a state of emergency in the mining sector until all unions and employers in the mining sector respect the peace accord and all the legislation that we have in this country.
For more information contact Solly Phetoe COSATU North West Provincial Secretary at 082 304 4055