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Press Statement, 23 April 2020
NUM REJECTS SECTION 189 AND 197 ISSUED BY VILLAGE MAIN REEF COMPANY
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Matlosana Region is appalled by the inhumane and brutal behaviour from Village Main Reef (VMR) management aimed at mineworkers and their dependents. VMR has issued Section 189 to retrench 6,309 mineworkers from Tau Lekoa mine, Kopanang mine and West Gold Plant. NUM members will not give up their struggle for a dignified life against capitalist barbarism that is happening at the VMR in Matlosana. NUM members will continue to show their fighting spirit and tenacity against VMR.
The NUM and its members were not consulted when the company issued Section 197. Section 197 of the Labour Relations Act, No 66 of 1995 (LRA) was enacted to change the common law position, with the effect that an automatic transfer of contracts of employment from the transferring employer (previous employer) to the acquiring employer (new employer) now takes place in the event that the whole or part of any business, trade, undertaking or service is transferred from the previous employer to the new employer as a going concern.
The section, therefore, makes provision for an exception to the principle that the contract of employment may not be transferred without the consent of the employees, and it has the dual purpose of both facilitating transfers of businesses, and protecting employees’ interest in job security.
For a transaction to fall within the scope of s197, the following three elements must simultaneously be present:
This inhumane brutality happens at the time when the country is fighting the spread of COVID-19 and the government has issued numerous calls to companies to do all within its powers to save jobs.
The NUM Matlosana region rejects section 197 and section 189 as issued by VMR. The VMR has also unilaterally without consulting the unions issued letters to workers instructing them not to report to work after the lockdown period. The company has also announced the no work, no pay from 26th March. As it stands now, all mineworkers on lockdown will not be paid.
"VMR is pleading poverty but it has been harbouring some thieves within its management structures. Recently, the company dismissed some of its Senior Managers for stealing gold and other fraud and corruption-related matters. The company did not do anything to recoup the money lost, from these thieves and corrupt elements. Now the mineworkers must pay for that by facing no work no pay during the lockdown and being retrenched. At all times the mineworkers must suffer and pay for any sins committed by management," said Masibulele Naki, NUM Matlosana Regional Secretary.
"The arrogance of VMR management and its posture of showing a middle finger to the unions, the workers at large and not honouring government regulations, requires an intervention from the regulatory department which is the Department of Minerals Resources and Energy (DMRE). We call upon Minister Gwede Mantashe to intervene. As a former miner himself he has experienced the brutality and inhumane actions unleashed to mineworkers by the mines," Naki added.
The NUM expects the Minister Gwede Mantashe to harshly deal with mines like VMR and any other mines who undermine the rights of workers. The Minister must also scrutinize the mining rights of VMR as there are some allegations of illegalities in particular on ownership.
The Minister must intervene and call the VMR to order regarding their section 197 and 189. The NUM Matlosana region has tried on several occasions to request a meeting with VMR but they have refused. We expect the VMR to put on hold all their inhumane actions until the lockdown is lifted and resume proper discussions with the leadership of NUM.
The NUM Matlosana region rejects Section 197 and 189 issued by VMR. The leadership collective of NUM Matlosana region, members and supporters will be at the forefront of this battle against VMR and all other mines that seek to maximize wealth through the blood and sweat of mineworkers.
The NUM calls on all its members and the workers, in general, to unite against VMR. We call also all progressive forces beyond the workplace to join in defending their rights as workers against brutality unleashed to them by VMR.
ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL UNION OF MINEWORKERS.
For more information, please contact:
Masibulele Naki: NUM Matlosana Regional Secretary: 073 333 7745.
Livhuwani Mammburu, NUM National Spokesperson, 083 809 3257
7 Rissik Street.
Tel: 011 377 2111
Twitter: @Num Media