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Num seeks platinum mine comeback

The union wants to represent 30% of the more than 167 000 workers at platinum producers, by the end of 2019.

The National Union of Mineworkers, which dominated organised labour across South Africa’s platinum belt until the massacre at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in 2012, is plotting a comeback.

By the end of this year, the union wants to represent 30% of the more than 167 000 workers at the world’s four biggest platinum producers, said Num President Joseph Montisetse. It currently represents 18% of Impala Platinum’s workforce and 11% at Lonmin. He didn’t give figures for Anglo American Platinum or Sibanye Gold, which is taking over Lonmin.

The Num, founded in 1982 by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, has halved in size as it was ousted from some platinum mines by the more militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union. Amcu played a leading role in the protests that ended in the fatal shooting of 34 people by the police at Marikana, and in 2014 it led a five-month platinum-industry strike.

“We have a clear target. I’ve appointed myself to platinum” recruitment efforts, Montisetse said at the Num’s headquarters in downtown Johannesburg, where mosaics of struggling workers line the entrance. Formerly South Africa’s largest labour union, it currently has 187 000 audited members, he said.

Amcu says it has 250 000 members across the country’s mining industry. Since Marikana there has been often deadly conflict between members of Amcu and the Num.

Read: Amcu seeks R17 000 monthly basic wage in pay talks

The former also continues to be more aggressive in its pay demands. While Amcu has started this year’s platinum wage talks with a demand for a 48% increase to R17 000 ($1 185) a month, the Num has requested a 15% increment from Anglo Platinum.

While Montisetse said the Num doesn’t want to profit from another union’s problems, Amcu has its own challenges.

Amcu is currently facing a threat of deregistration as a recognised union by the regulator because it allegedly hasn’t complied with its constitution by failing to hold a regular congress and leadership elections.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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I’ve read on another article that the labour unions (very cleverly) are aware of the (current) great profits being made by many platinum producers (thanks in part to elevated price of said metal).

Fair enough.

However, these employees are NOT shareholders (they seem to want the security of employees, but avoid the risk of being a shareholder).

Now, my question to the union and its members: when the platinum commodity cycle again turns against the industry, are you happy to accept a syncronized DROP in salaries, in line with the drop in metal-price and reducing company profits??

And when the mine operate at a loss, are you happy to work for zero pay…or better still, pro-rata pay the company (say as a loan against your employer pension-fund) to make up corporate operating loss?

Then we can talk….

Ask any ZA mining company for a value added statement and see what slice the shareholder has received. Look at historical trends… you will soon realize that this sector is uninvestable.

The union will tell you no one works for “zero pay” – would you? Do company execs take pay-cuts when commodity prices deteriorate? See what Lonmin execs walked off with after the mine -which was a failure at the end of the day – was sold to Sibanya…
Workers often get incentives to boost productivity – do execs earn bonuses according to performance assessments? The answer is NO!
(If an exec performs like Froneman it’s fine, but many don’t.)

Gosh, AMCU is pricing itself out of the market with those types of demands. And not holding congresses, etc, may not be too wise…

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