SA gold-mine strikers win union recognition agreement!

Relatives and supporters of over 400 AMCU members who staged a sit-in underground last October for union recognition dance outside

GOLD ONE, the Modder East Operations company’s mine in Gauteng in South Africa, has concluded a trade union recognition agreement with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) following talks between the two parties last Thursday.

The agreement follows strikes at the mine which the employer claimed were illegal.
On Wednesday, Gold One mine head of legal, Ziyaad Hassam, said that 494 employees from the mine have opted to join AMCU, and an additional 173 membership forms from employees who expressed interest in joining AMCU were still under verification but were set to go through this week.
In January, Gold One commenced with the AMCU verification process.
The agreement was facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA) in the presence of AMCU and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).
Hassam said: ‘The CCMA report was received on Wednesday. It concluded that 494 employees had confirmed their membership with AMCU.’
The recognition also follows several miners leaving the NUM to join AMCU.
Hassam continued: ‘We are now in the process of concluding a recognition agreement with Amcu following which, both NUM and AMCU will be recognised as trade unions at Gold One.’
A statement from Krister J van Rensburg (AMCU HOD Organisational Development) said: ‘Our hearts go out to these comrades – to lose their jobs in the beginning of the year at Modder East, especially in this country with its high unemployment, is devastating news.’
‘We will now represent workers at internal appeal processes.
‘We have also already referred unfair dismissals to the CCMA, and in terms of the CCMA Rules we have the right to represent these employees regardless of our status at the workplace.
‘However, to be officially represented as we now are is a big win.
‘It makes it a lot easier to fight for mine workers at Modder East.
‘We are delighted and will continue to fight for those whose union membership has not been made official yet.’
A closed-shop agreement allows only one trade union to represent Gold One workers, and until December last year only the National Union of Miners was the officially recognised union there, but the NUM effectively terminated its closed-shop agreement with Gold One on December 14th, 2023.
This gave AMCU the opportunity to register as a trade union at the mine.
Hassam said that 551 mineworkers were then dismissed by Gold One for their involvement in unrecognised strikes.
Of the 551 dismissals, 335 have either been appealed and/or referred to the CCMA.
Hassam added that all suspended employees have now had their disciplinary cases finalised.
Meanwhile, The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has threatened a nationwide strike if employers in the bus sector do not agree to a proposed 10 per cent salary increase across the board.
NUMSA has declared a dispute against employers at the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC).
Among NUMSA’s list of demands are primary healthcare – full compulsory healthcare for all workers in the industry, subject to qualifying exemptions, with the employer contributing 50 per cent and the worker contributing 50 per cent.
NUMSA also wants an increase in the allowance for the double driver from 450 rands to 900 rands.
‘Drivers do on average 18 trips per month, this then represents about 25 rands per trip.’
NUMSA also pointed out: ‘During the course of negotiations (with employer associations the South African Bus Employers Association (SABEA) and the Commuters Bus Employers Association (COBEA) we reduced our demand from 15 per cent to ten per cent.
‘We want a one year agreement. If the employer wants a multi-year agreement they have to put a good offer on the table.’
According to NUMSA, the employers were not happy with the workers’ demands despite the fact that they were submitted late last year.
The unions had also given a clear reason for these demands.
‘For example, they are only offering a conditional four per cent increase, and they are demanding that the unions drop all other demands.
‘They tried to persuade us to extend the first round of wage talks, but we have rejected this proposal.
‘Our members gave us a mandate to make significant progress in the five days which were allocated to the talks.
‘However, we are still far from each other.
‘We also do not want to prolong negotiations unnecessarily.
‘The current agreement is going to expire on 31st of March, therefore, we have no choice, but to act with speed to try and resolve this round of wage talks.’
NUMSA and other unions called a meeting of shop stewards in the bus sector last Wednesday where a way forward was discussed, following the union’s declaration of the dispute.
NUMSA continued: ‘We are waiting for the Bargaining Council to confirm a date for conciliation.’

  • Workers at the University of Cape Town (UCT) are continuing their strike which started last Thursday and plan to stay out indefinitely if they do not get their demands.

Negotiators from the University of Cape Town Employees Union (UCTEU) held talks with management on Saturday but they failed to reach an agreement.
The union is demanding a 1.5 per cent increase to 2023 salaries and a 7.5 per cent increase to 2024 salaries.
The union also wants the immediate payment for performance awards for June 2022 to May 2023.
And, among other demands, they also want the university to implement a unified bargaining forum.
On Saturday, over 150 technical and scientific officers and administrative employees working in a wide range of pay classes, marched from Sarah Baartman Hall to Bremner Building to picket outside UCT’s administrative offices.
UCTEU’s deputy president Tsebo Litabe told the rally: ‘We don’t wish to be here.
‘The campus is vibrant, we want to be here for our students, we want to serve the community of UCT.
‘Management must do their part. We don’t like what is happening.’

  • The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) supports the government’s appeal to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the current attacks against more than two million Palestinian people seeking refuge in Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip from the attacks by the Israeli Defence Force.

COSATU wrote in a statement published on their website: The international community welcomed the sound ruling by the ICJ that Israel’s military onslaught in the Gaza Strip may constitute acts of genocide and other gross violations of the Geneva Convention on the conduct of war.
‘The ICJ’s initial ruling bound Israel’s government to cease acts that may result in any forms of genocide and to report on these steps to the Court.
‘It is clear that Israel has chosen to defy the ICJ through its commencement of indiscriminate acts of war against ordinary civilians in Rafah.
‘If the ICJ’s authority and rulings are to be respected as they deserve, then it is critical that it issues a further compliance order.
‘Equally, the United Nations’ Security Council and General Assembly should not remain silent on this matter when