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Press Statement, 31 May 2018
NUM is ready for the upcoming 16th National Congress
The National Union of Mineworkers is set to hold its 16th National Congress from 20-22 June 2018 at Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg. This is a Congress that comes three years after the successful 15th National Congress which was held at the same venue. The congress will be organised under the theme “Re-build and re-engineer NUM towards reclaiming its historical posture”.
The Congress shall take stock of the challenges facing the working class around the sectors the union is organising (mining, energy and construction sectors). It will reflect on the happenings of the past three years both successes and failures. The NUM remains a home of workers and workers will be better organised under the leadership of the NUM.
The NUM shall, therefore, use the Congress to reflect on whether we have succeeded in ensuring that the union remains grounded on the traditions of strong shop floor organisation and militant struggles for worker rights and collective bargaining. We shall reflect and assess the work that has been done to ensure that the NUM remains a democratic organisation controlled by workers, whose approach and overall orientation continues to be based on campaigns that incorporate broader workers issues.Workers can expect the Congress to reflect on a number of issues including the following:
• Challenges faced by the union in its quest to reclaim its historical posture
At its inception 35 years ago, the union’s challenges were far different from the challenges it is facing today. Then, laws were highly repressive but mineworkers had grown so impatient for “liberation”. Today’s laws are so worker-friendly but workers are less interested in trade unionism. Also, unlike yesteryears, there is a plethora of competing trade unions in the industry.
• Recruit and retain educated workers
Globalisation and technological development have resulted in the transformation of the workplace and the nature of work is set to change further with the advent of the so-called 4th Industrial Revolution, which is based on digital technology, advanced robotics and automation and smart factories, where human intervention is minimal. The NUM will call for improvised tactics to recruit and retain today’s more educated workers. To drive this, the NUM has created a platform for young workers, through its youth structure, to ensure the future existence of the union.
• Continued job losses in the mining sector
The issue of job losses, our government stance on Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and the rot in SOEs will feature prominently in the Congress discussions. We view this capitalist IPPs deal as a backdoor privatization of Eskom. The plan is to privatize 42% of Eskom by 2030 masquerading as the implementation of clean energy. If the IPP's have got power to generate, let them stand alone and compete with Eskom. We must defend these jobs.
• Health and safety
It estimated that from the beginning of the 20th century up to 1986, 46 000 workers had died and over a million were seriously injured. Mineworkers' lives were cheap in apartheid South Africa. The mines use threats and punishments to make the work go faster. If workers stop because the working place is not safe, they may get charged - and sometimes even fired. The fear of punishment makes workers take more risks - and when workers take more risks they have more accidents. Falls of ground are common in deep mining and can be triggered by seismic events. Mining companies had “the attitude that, when workers want to withdraw from a dangerous workplace, they want to first agree that it is dangerous. In 2003, when the highest number, of seismic events, was last recorded by the chamber, 48 of the 270 miners who died were killed in falls of ground accidents. There was an increase in seismic activity since 2016. Our concern is that the fatalities that are happening in the mining industry in South Africa are as a result of the mining companies pricing the loss of human life into their business model. It is unacceptable that mineworkers are denied their basic human right to work in an environment that guarantees their safety and that instead they are expected to go to work to die. We call upon employers to put lives of workers first so that we can be able to achieve zero harm in the mining industry. We are selling our labour for the survival of our families, not our limbs, and lives.
As 2019 is the year of national elections, the Congress will deliberate what resources can the union make available to bolster the ANC campaigns for a two-thirds majority victory in the elections. The union will also deliberate on the SACP’s congress resolution to contest election outside the tripartite alliance. This resolution has caused a dilemma among many NUM members as they are members of both the ANC and the SACP. Congress will seek to persuade the Party to reconsider its stance on the matter in the quest to strengthen the National Democratic Revolution (NDR).As per our tradition, the Congress will be addressed by leaders from the ANC, the SACP and Cosatu We have also invited fraternal organisations both locally and internationally. However, we expect only the global federations to give messages of support on behalf of their affiliates. These global federations are BWI, IndustriAll, and WFTU.
Like as we said before, we invite members of the media to come and factually report about the Congress. We expect journalists, as they are workers themselves, to report factually about worker issues and refrain from journalism which is sensational and only serve to further divide the workers.
For accreditation purposes, members of the media can send their details i.e names, contact details and the name of the media house where they work to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to high-security nature of the Congress, it is vital that members of the media apply for accreditation timeously. The NUM will not be able to entertain the last-minute request for accreditation.
Requests for accreditation will be acknowledged.
For more detailed information, please contact:
David Sipunzi: NUM General Secretary: 082 883 7293Livhuwani Mammburu: NUM National Spokesperson: 083 809 3257
Address:7 Rissik Street.Cnr Frederick,Johannesburg 2001Tel: 011 377 2111 Web: www.num.org.za Twitter: @Num Media NUMFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/NUM/100860023402167