Armed intruders infiltrate mines in South Africa AMCU demands

AMCU mineworkers demonstrate – the union is demanding action against armed intruders accessing mines

THE SOUTH African Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) says it is ‘wary of armed intruders accessing mines where its members work.’

AMCU has documented four such incidents, with the latest reportedly last Thursday at Kloof Mine outside Westonaria, where its members arrested a man who was allegedly found in possession of numerous weapons including pangas and an axe.

‘AMCU calls on the police to ensure that the investigation is finalised speedily, and justice is served as soon as possible,’ the union said. Other incidents have been reported in the Free State Province in recent weeks.

‘More disturbingly’ AMCU warned, ‘these incidents are very similar to the events leading up to the Marikana massacre.

The massacre occurred in 2012 after police opened fire on striking mineworkers. Over 30 miners were killed.

Meanwhile, former senior Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) member Thembinkosi Rawula, who was snubbed and excluded from the party’s national list, has found a new home in the National Union of Metalworkers’ (NUMSA) newly formed political party the SRWP (Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party).

SRWP president Irvin Jim confirmed to News24 that Rawula had approached his party on the ground in the Eastern Cape.

Jim said Rawula’s membership is being processed. ‘He voluntarily approached our structures. Our understanding is that he has not made any demands to go to Parliament,’ Jim said.

The EFF, similarly to the SRWP, has pro-poor ideals. In 2014, EFF leader Julius Malema made attempts to persuade NUMSA to form an alliance. In the context of the working class and unions, NUMSA is seen to wield enormous influence, having the largest number of members in the country.

However, Rawula resigned from the EFF amid a bitter war of words over the party’s financial resources. Malema has vowed to sue Rawula for R1m in defamation.

Rawula’s resignation comes after he refused to retract his comments in which he accused Malema and his deputy, Floyd Shivambu, of financial mismanagement and of accepting a donation from VBS Mutual Bank.

In a 35-point letter, Rawula indicated his intention to resign from the party. ‘Let history judge me, both in terms subjective and objective realities. If I have betrayed the revolution, I will take any punishment that comes by my way.

‘I subscribe to the notion that, ‘‘society does not perish because of bad people, but society perishes because good people have decided to keep quiet until death.”

‘Let society judge me for taking this long to speak, but in mitigation of my sentence, I HAVE FINALLY SPOKEN.

‘I will now listen to your press conference with peace as a non-member of the EFF’ (sic).

  • NUMSA said last Tuesday that it and the Transport and Omnibus Workers Union (TOWU) have signed a three-year wage agreement with BidAir.

NUMSA national spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said wage talks began on January 25 and were concluded on April 12, and the wage agreement is effective from January 1st, 2019, to December 31, 2020.

Under the deal, workers earning more than R5,000 per month will get a 7.5% increase while those paid less than R5,000 will get 9.25%.

‘In 2020, those earning more than R5,000 will get a 7% increase and (there will be a) 9% increase for those earning less than R5,000,’ Hlubi-Majola confirmed.

She said in 2021 there would be a CPI-linked increase capped at a minimum of 6.5% and a maximum of 7% across the board for all workers in the bargaining unit.

Outstanding issues would be dealt with at an operational level, including medical aid, employment equity, and equal pay for work of equal value.

‘We have agreed to resolve these issues within three months from the date of signing the agreement. We also reserve the right to refer a dispute to the relevant party should we disagree,’ the NUMSA spokesperson added.

  • At the same time, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) conceded defeat after its strike at Comair was interdicted last Thursday, but said the war is not over.

This comes after the Labour Court in Johannesburg issued a temporary interdict against the strike by NUMSA members at Comair, and ordered them to return to work immediately.

The union had served Comair with notice to begin the strike last Thursday at 1.00pm across all airports, which would have caused major disruption to the airline’s operations heading into the busy Easter weekend.

The dispute between the workers’ union and the airline relates to salary anomalies for at least 21 employees hired prior to 2009 who are being paid higher than the agreed salary scale. NUMSA represents just over 50 per cent of Comair’s 700 airport ground staff out of a total staff complement of 2,200.

The union’s national spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola conceded that the members would have to return to work but said the matter is not over.

‘We need to make it clear that just because the strike has been interdicted, it doesn’t mean that this matter is over’ she said.

‘The dispute remains unresolved. This is a long-standing issue created by the management team at Comair who have frankly failed to show leadership and show vision in trying to deal with this issue.’

Hlubi-Majola added: ‘We are saying to management we repeat the call that they need to engage with us meaningfully on how we resolve this problem that they created. They are the ones who went and paid workers unjustifiable higher incomes, which created a situation where 23 workers now are earning much higher wages than they should be earning according to the salary scale.’

She said that NUMSA would be meeting with Comair as the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration has asked for intervention in the dispute.

Wrenelle Stander, Comair’s executive director for airline division, said they had already put comprehensive contingency plans in place in case the strike went ahead.

‘These included employees from around the business volunteering to assist at airports, proactively contacting customers to facilitate check-in and providing additional fast-bag-drop counters.

‘As always over a holiday weekend we’d encourage customers to check-in online or at the airport kiosks and use the dedicated fast-bag drops,’ Stander said.

  • In Johannesburg, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize has warned municipal managers and their junior officials to stick to their current conditions of employment and benefits despite certain sections of municipal law being declared unlawful by the Constitutional Court.

The stern warning comes after the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) challenged the validity of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act Amendment Act 7 of 2011.

In its High Court and Constitutional Court application, SAMWU argued that the act was incorrectly tagged as an ordinary bill not affecting the provinces rather than an ordinary bill affecting them.

The labour union also argued that it is unlawful for the act to forbid municipal managers from occupying senior positions in political parties of their choice, saying the regulation is inconsistent with the Constitution and limits their rights to freedom of association.

This is what local government minister Mkhize is warning local officials to ignore.