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The NUM greets all workers in general and its members in particular in the mining, energy and construction sectors, and wish them a happy, prosperous and revolutionary 2014. In the past two years the mining industry has been plagued by a state of uncertainty. There is no doubt that weak industrial relations have contributed a lot to the debacle including pathetic corporate leadership. For instance the unilateral undermining of signed collective bargaining agreements was not only a trigger of the mayhem but a violation of bilateral trusts by the employers.
A strategy of divide and rule which unfortunately resulted in a sustained violent attrition amongst the workers including loss of lives but also loss of production and profits for the bosses. This divide and rule strategy mobilised to weaken workers and their unions did not only create divisions between unions, it generated divisions between black workers such that the outcome would easily be ‘black on black violence’ or as the uninformed view fashionably refers to ‘struggle for territorial domination between unions’ while exonerating the bosses and presenting them as innocent bystanders or sometimes as passer-byes caught up in the cross fire. Our constitutional rights and freedoms should be defended: No wonder when NUM called for independent verification process to determine membership and affiliations between unions the employers thwarted the prospects of such independent processes as they chose who should be the majority representative at companies like Impala and Anglo Platinum to mention a few .In these instances the constitutional rights of workers such as the hard earned freedom of association and freedom of speech were grossly undermined. NUM members could no longer speak freely about their organisational preferences. Importantly the right to life became another casualty in the process as mineworkers and women were killed for their membership or association to NUM. In addition , criminal acts of intimidation, displacement, arson, and murder typical of the modus operandi of vigilante unionism were intensified to entrench a state of fear and weaken NUM at all cost. In this context we reminisce the events of Marikana in which many workers perished during the month of August 2012 and afterwards to whose families we still echo our condolences.
In their name we renew the calls for the Farlam Commission to expedite its inquiry so that justice is not delayed. Without pre-empting the outcomes of the Commission we believe that Justice to all those affected is the best memorial which could offer a relatively better compensation for closure to the families of the deceased. Against the background of these miserable realities we call upon the Mine Crime Prevention Forum (which was established as a result of the Framework Agreement for a Sustainable Mining Industry led by the Deputy President of the Republic Kgalema Motlanthe in which all stakeholders participated) to pro-actively prevent any further potential degeneration of strikes into a blood bath. Workers can lead effective disciplined industrial action:While taking into cognisance the possibility of strikes lurking in the first and second quarter of 2014 led by unions or workers to resolve wage disputes which were not settled by the end of 2013.The current NUM strike at Northam Platinum at Zondereinde is a case in point of a dispute yet to be resolved after more than ten weeks on the boil. Remarkably, it has been a peaceful, bloodless and effective legal strike in the platinum sector. It has demonstrated that workers and their unions can undertake an effective peaceful industrial action unless galvanised otherwise by forces filled with ulterior motives.
In this regard NUM calls for discipline to all workers who may undertake industrial protest to buttress their demands in the platinum belt particularly in the area of Rustenburg. We call on all stakeholders to respect the freedom of association, and for the right to life to be respected and protected by all workers, unions, the employer, and government. Assassins and agent provocateurs must account: In the past we have been extremely critical about the ineffectiveness of the police in the Rustenburg mine operations to arrest suspects linked with mine assassinations and attempted assassinations of NUM Stewards. The arrests and prosecution of nine suspects related to mine killings in 2013 has been a positive sign in stopping the well-orchestrated phenomenon. We are hopeful that this lays the basis for finding the plotters and the sponsors.
The Farlam Commission is a parallel process and not an excuse for dereliction of duty to apprehend perpetrators of slaughter as it happened in some instances where upon suspects would not be arrested in view that the commission would ultimately handle allegations against them. The gruesome spectacle of vigilante unionism must be napped in the bud through effective monitoring and intelligence gathering to ensure that any criminality taking advantage of legitimate industrial action is isolated and eradicated while perpetrators are held accountable. NUM shall continue to support workers `s right to fight poverty wages and appalling working and living conditions using all organisationally viable means and legal avenues including strikes to advance shop-floor struggles . Killing, intimidating, and displacing fellow workers does not advance this course .These are only characteristics of vigilante unionism which does not safeguard our demands or weaken the employer. Unity and tolerance amongst the workers is imperative:
The struggle against the brutality of mining bosses is not advanced by the killing of NUM members .The continued attacks on NUM and its members can only serve to strengthen the arrogance and the intransigent attitude of the bosses not to transform the mine compounds and hostels into family units including living wage. Only through unity of the workers can mineworkers overcome their conditions. Tolerance and unity are very important amongst workers in view of weak industrial relations, deficient corporate leadership which has been instrumental in in turning the platinum sect into an amphitheatre of tumultuous lasses faire and further fragmentation and instability. Unwilling to expedite the transformation of the mining industry and also improve wages of mineworkers the leadership at Northam is the case in point.
NUM will continue to defend workers from unilateral retrenchments and poor remuneration. NUM reiterates its commitment not to lie or promise workers what it cannot achieve. Finally the union reiterates its commitment as it has done before to welcome and support any workers who may want to re-join the union.
For more information, please contact:
Livhuwani Mammburu: 083 809 3257 Acting National spokesperson
Frans Baleni: 0823756443 General Secretary Mike Fafuli: 0828036419 Advisor (Office of the President) National Union of Mineworkers 7 Rissik Street Cnr Frederick Johannesburg Tel: 011 377 2111 Web: www.num.org.za Twitter: @Num_Media "Socialist societies that create better living conditions for the people are unconsciously carrying out what we men of faith consider God's projects in history,"( Brazilian liberation theologist Frei Betto).