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Press Statement, 31 August 2020
POST-NUM NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETING MEDIA STATEMENT
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) held its bi-monthly National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting from 27 to 28 August 2020 at Elijah Barayi Memorial Training Center in Midrand. Among many issues that the NEC deliberated on were the following;
1. The attitude of Sibanye Stillwater and Harmony Gold towards COVID-19
The outbreak of the coronavirus has assisted in exposing gold mining companies’ attitude towards their own employees and the country at large. This refers more to Sibanye Stillwater under the stewardship of Neil Froneman as their CEO and Harmony Gold under Peter Steenkamp who is the CEO. These two companies show an attitude that says, “Thanks to God that there is a COVID-19 outbreak. This is our opportunity to show our true colours.” Sibanye Stillwater and Harmony have colluded to formulate policies whose intention is to cheaply get rid of their employees under the guise of “taking care of vulnerable employees” and Sibanye Stillwater has the backing of the court that is supposed to be protecting the most vulnerable of our society. According to the policies adopted by these two companies, an employee can be dismissed by merely looking at his/her weight and decide that they are obese.
As NUM, we are saying to these companies, if they care so much about these so-called vulnerable employees, they can send them home with at least 70% of their salaries until the situation has normalized. Retrenching people just because they have underlying diseases is both unethical and unpatriotic. Workers have not invented the coronavirus. These are the companies we supported when they called for an early return to work as we were conscious of the damage the lockdown was doing to their business, yet they are now retrenching workers. We are calling on relevant authorities to intervene or the country is going to the dogs.
2. Village Main Reef
This is a company that operates some of the former Anglogold operations in the Klerksdorp-Orkney area in the North West Province of South Africa. When the Chinese took over these operations we hoped for the better in terms of employment. Little did we know that we had bigger trouble awaiting us. During the lockdown, this company completely failed to pay workers even a fraction of their salaries. As the mines are allowed to operate at 100%, they have not recalled a single worker leaving more than 4000 workers in abject poverty. Instead their issued retrenchment notices during the initial lockdown period. When we finally agreed to engage on retrenchments, they changed goalposts and said they are unable to pay retrenchment packages as per the agreement signed at Chamber of Mines more than two years ago. All they want is to pay R22 000 across the board irrespective of the number of years a person has worked and they want to pay that in six months instalments. We reject that with the contempt it deserves and call upon the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to recall their mining license.
3. Progress on NUM-LIMUSA merger
As per COSATU resolution and NUM congress resolution, our scope has been extended to include metal, motor industry, filling stations and all related sectors that LIMUSA was organizing. For NUM to officially recruit workers in these areas, we have been waiting for two things to happen. The first one was for LIMUSA to officially wind down their operations and that has been done. Secondly, the amendment to our constitution has to be endorsed by the Registrar of the Department of Labour. This one is still pending. In anticipation of endorsement, we are moving forward with the administrative part of the merger. In a short space of time, eleven of the twenty-six LIMUSA staff members will be absorbed into NUM. the remainder will be phased in over a period of twelve months.
4. NUM re-affiliation to World Federation of Trade Unions
Our previous NEC took a conscious decision to re-affiliate to WFTU. In taking forward our duties as an affiliate, the NUM has taken a decision to second one of its staff members to the WFTU Africa Regional offices which are based in Johannesburg. This position has been vacant since the NEHAWU seconded Lulamile Sotaka retired about two years ago and that has impacted very negatively on the work of WFTU.
5. The scourge of corruption
If nothing continues to be done about the rampant corruption in South Africa, this country is going to be a failed state within the next five years. People in positions of power are alleged to be milking the coffers of the state so hard that blood is about to ooze from the tits. It is a pity that there is not a single case of alleged corruption has someone been hauled before the courts of law. Does this mean our law enforcement agencies are on holiday or does lack of action mean the media is just creating stories about corruption? Our cities and towns are rotting because of not being maintained, our roads have become death traps because of not being maintained, our hospitals are so dilapidated that being admitted to them is equivalent to being booked in at Auschwitz. All these happen because there is no money to attend to them yet there is no single Councilor, no single Mayor, no single Member of Parliament and no single Government Minister has ever missed a month’s salary.
We call upon the authorities to take appropriate action and stop being by-standers as the country is fast sliding into a deep dark hole. Where is the National Prosecution Authority or why or is it there? The issue of a lifestyle audit may not help. Who will audit the Auditor? We need people in all spheres of the state, Parliament, Executive and Judiciary to play their respective roles in combating corruption as all of them are not immune to corruption. As long as nothing is being said and done about the Corruptor (mostly business), the corruption will forever be with us. Any Party that hopes to perform good in next year’s local government elections must start now doing the right thing and stop paying lip-service.
6. Retrenchment by the State
The state is by nature supposed to ensure that citizens are taken care of by either creating jobs or a climate conducive to the creation of jobs. No excuses. It is on this basis that the government has called for a stop on the retrenching of SABC staff as the SABC is a parastatal. It is, however, disturbing to realize that when it comes to other parastatals the very same government turns a blind eye. People are losing jobs at Eskom and yet there is no government intervention. The intention of the government to retrench workers in the only state-owned mining company, Alexkor, may be interpreted as the government’s incompetence to deal with the economy. We appeal to the Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan to intervene to avoid adding to the catastrophe caused by the decline of mining activity in the Northern Cape Province. People in Alexander Bay solely depend on the mine and if retrenchment cannot be averted, the government must see to it that there is just transition.
7. Gender-based violence
The killing of women in our country is competing with only two social ills, COVID-19 and corruption, for the position of newsmaker of 2020. We suspect that if statistics were to be released, they would show that, month to month, more women have been killed or raped or abused in August (Women’s Month) than in any other month. Our democracy and our justice system are failing the women of our country. Men are raping and murdering women with impunity. All those who have the power to stop this nonsense keep on doing it to pay lip service. Enough is enough. The failure by the authorities to act against the raping and killing of women is taking the testing of society’s patience too far.
For more information, please contact:
David Sipunzi: NUM General Secretary: 082 883 7293
Livhuwani Mammburu: NUM National Spokesperson: 083 809 3257
7 Rissik Street.
Tel: 011 377 2111
Twitter: @Num Media