Press Statement, 17 February 2022
NUM-Post NEC media statement, 17 February, 2023
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) convened its ordinary National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting at Elijah Barayi Memorial Training Centre in Midrand from 15th- 16th February 2023. The NEC meeting dealt with a number of issues pertaining to the four sectors that the union is organising.
Amongst the critical issues discussed are as follows:
THE NUM SPECIAL NATIONAL CONGRESS IN MARCH 2023
The NUM is gearing up to convene its Special National Congress, to take place next month (1st-2nd March 2023) at Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Boksburg. The conference is a continuation of the unfinished elective National Congress that was held at the same venue earlier last year. The main focus would be on finalising the resolutions and the amendments of the union’s constitution that were not discussed and endorsed. The Special National Congress would be organised under the theme “Back to Basics is when we defend and advance to build a radical movement”.
THE APPOINTMENT OF THE MINISTER OF ELECTRICITY
The NUM NEC does not support the announcement made by the State President Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the National Address to appoint the Minister of Electricity. The NEC aligns itself with the resolution that was taken by the ANC National Congress later last year that Eskom must be moved from Public Enterprises to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. The NEC is of the view that if the State President does go ahead in appointing the Minister of Electricity, that person must not be a politician. Instead, the President should consider appointing a credible, competent and qualified engineer who has the capacity to deal with all the technical issues that are impacting the daily smooth operation of the power utility.
THE JUST ENERGY TRANSITION (JET)
South Africa is pressed into a corner of renewables while it has little capacity. It is forced to leave coal, which it has, in abundance and key for its economic growth, human development and industrialisation. The touted Just Energy Transition (JET) is ultimately an outcome of the class contradictions. In the absence of a countervailing working class the outcome in the long run will be emergence of predator transition whose profit motive trajectory will marshal the working class to pay a huge price.
The NUM NEC is not opposed to the JET and believes ESKOM should be involved in its development, which can give rise to a low carbon industrial path where the inputs are produced locally. The closure of the power stations in Mpumalanga must never be unnecessarily rushed to JET as it has a devastating socio-economic impact. South Africa must continue following the Integrated Resource Plan based on an energy mix appropriate to the development needs of the country.
Developed countries have been using fossil fuels over the years to build their economies. They are responsible for the climate change crisis that we are now facing. It cannot be the responsibility of South Africa to sacrifice our economic development so they can continue to pollute.
South Africa has an abundance of coal reserves. It will be very irresponsible for South Africa to stop the use of coal, unless and until we are fully compensated by the rich industrialised countries. We need to start building environmentally friendly power stations and investigate all technologies, which can reduce the pollution of greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon capture and storage.
THE DEATH AND INJURIES IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN MINES
It is the view of the NUM NEC that mining companies must adopt radar technology as a safety measure, to detect when a rock might fall underground. The NUM strongly believes that there are accidents that could be easily prevented through technology. In the year 2022 the mining sector has recorded 49 fatalities versus 74 in the year 2021, and to us as the NUM one death is one too many. This is unacceptable and it has to stop.
It is quite disturbing that the poor mineworkers who are earning peanuts, continue to die like flies in the industry that careless about their sweat and blood. Translating the 49 fatalities, that means 49 breadwinners perished in line of duty. South Africa is capable of developing technology that can foretell the fall of ground, seismic events which are most notorious for mining disasters. If we care about human life, the expenses or cost towards procuring such advanced technology should not matter much.
The NEC has expressed serious concerns with regard to the shortage of DMRE inspectors within the mining industry. It cannot be correct that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy only employs 150 inspectors. If the government regards mining as a critical industry for the country's economic growth, the department must be fully capacitated to inspect all the mines across the country.
Also, the NEC expressed dissatisfaction with regard to lack of transparency when it comes to the Occupational Health and Safety statistics within the Department of Employment and Labour. The NEC is not happy that the union is not getting statistics on a month-to-month basis like it happens with the DMRE. It is even difficult to get annual Occupational Health and Safety statistics even though the department employs 2 600 labour inspectors.
THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR MAFIAS
The NEC observed with shock the “Construction Mafias” that are hampering the local economic empowerment. These construction mafias have continued to disrupt projects that are being awarded by Municipalities, Provincial Road Agencies and SANRAL.
Those mafias continue to demand the 30% contracts beneficiation which is supposed to benefit the communities these projects are awarded at and worst of all they do not want to do the actual work. The 30% is meant to give access to SMEs and create employment opportunities within the communities these projects are awarded to and skills transfer.
The construction companies have increased employment of private security in major projects to protect themselves and the employees on the projects. They demand protection fees more so bring companies that are not competent in the contract, which delays the completion of the contract and substandard quality of work to the projects.
The construction sector permanent employment has declined over the years since the introduction of the 30% beneficiation by the community. They have demanded that Construction companies that are providing their plant to do work on site has now been outsourced by the Construction companies to Construction Mafia construction where they bring their own plants on site. Infrastructure development is a major boost to the country’s economy. The awarding of Major Construction tenders will destroy the construction industry in the country, especially the well-established Construction companies in the country as it did with manufacturing. It will affect the current employment in the industry.
The NUM is opposed to the awarding of tenders to Chinese companies. In most cases Chinese companies are awarded lucrative tenders at the expense of local companies irrespective of their competent capacities.
The NUM is calling for the State President to speed up the rollout of the major infrastructure projects to improve the ailing infrastructure, to boost the economy and create job opportunities.
This is also a factual fact based on the GDP numbers issued by Stats SA. The NUM ‘s positions remain that the industry should continue to transform. That the beneficiation should continue however, it should benefit credible SMEs that are compliant with the laws of the country including UIF, pension funds are paid to employees more so those of SMEs.
Furthermore, the NUM is calling on the government to set out a clear interpretation of the 30% beneficiation towards the community.
We are also calling on the government entities, the Municipalities, the Provincial Road Agencies and SANRAL to award tenders to competent contractors within the borders of the country that are registered and compliant with the Civil Engineering Bargaining council. No Tender should be awarded to a Contractor that is not registered with the Industry Bargaining council.
THE OPTIMUM AND KOORNFONTEIN COAL MINES SITUATION
The NUM NEC has brought an urgent court application against the Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT), which handles export allocations. The RBCT served Optimum with a notice to terminate its coal exports, leaving the mine with several stockpiles it could not export by the end of last month. The NUM’s role on this matter is to seek a court order, which could save more than 2 000 jobs at Optimum Coal Mine mini-pit operations.
Optimum Coal Mine retrenched its employees in 2018. At the time of retrenchment, the employees were not paid their salaries or their retrenchment packages, leaving an amount in aggregate of approximately R311 million owed to employees. The mini-pit operators currently employed about 2 000 workers, of whom 1 000 were NUM members.
The NUM, which is the true representative of the workers, will not rest until we expose the capitalist agenda that seeks to perpetuate the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
For more detailed information, please contact:
William Mabapa, NUM General Secretary, 082 880 4439
Livhuwani Mammburu, NUM National Spokesperson, 083 809 3257
Luphert Chilwane, NUM Media Officer, 083 809 3255
The National Union of Mineworkers
7 Rissik Street.
Cnr Frederick Johannesburg
Tel: 011 377 2111 Cell: 083 809 3257