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NUM, Implats make up without CCMA intervention

Impala Platinum and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) will not ask the CCMA to resolve a dispute at the mine’s Rustenburg operations, despite a request by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant on Monday.

“We are not going to take that proposal … The NUM and Implats agree,” said NUM national spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka.

“Impala has basically agreed to take back the workers … so there is no dispute,” he said. Implats spokesperson Bob Gilmour agreed.

He wrote in response to an emailed question on whether Implats would approach the Commission for Conciliation, Medication and Arbitration (CCMA) as suggested by Oliphant: “Not at this stage as we are commencing the process of rehiring.”

Last week, Implats fired 13 000 miners who went on an illegal strike starting on January 30. On January 27, 4 200 workers were fired for embarking on an illegal strike at the mine.

Implats said it was in the process of rehiring those workers who had reapplied for their positions.

Earlier on Monday, Oliphant called on the parties to approach the CCMA.

“While there may be real problems raised by the industrial action embarked upon by employees of Implats a few weeks ago, problems of this kind are best dealt with through conflict resolution measures between management, employees, and the trade unions concerned,” she said in a statement.

No help accepted
She said it was a serious cause for concern that 17 200 employees had been dismissed.

The CCMA offered its services on Friday in terms of section 150 of the Labour Relations Act, the labour department said. Section 150 allows the CCMA to intervene in disputes of public interest.

“The department understands that the CCMA’s offer of assistance has already been accepted by the National Union of Mineworkers and has further urged all parties to resolve their differences through constructive dialogue as soon as possible,” Oliphant said.

Seshoka said this was not the case.

The mine is losing around 3 000 ounces of production a day due to the strike.

Implats said the problems at the mine started on January 12 when rock drill operators (RDOs) downed tools over salary concerns and refused to involve the recognised union, the NUM, in addressing their issues.

According to Business Day on Friday, the drillers wanted to be represented by the Association of Mining and Construction Union (Amcu) instead of the NUM.

Breach of agreement
Seshoka said Amcu had encouraged workers to strike so that they would be fired.

“This is just a strategy to make sure all [NUM] members are fired… when the company rehires… it is an opportunity for them [Amcu] to recruit,” he said.

He said Amcu had fewer than 100 members at Implats.

Implats said last week it had told the workers that raising their issues through work stoppage was unacceptable and that this had to be done through recognised processes and structures.

“Any engagement with delegates outside the NUM would be a breach of the recognition agreement,” Implats said.

The company denied allowing Amcu to convene meetings and address workers on the mine, as was alleged by the NUM last week.

“Save for giving the RDOs an opportunity to voice their grievances and responding or advising as previously mentioned, Impala did not negotiate with any delegation from the RDOs … The company has in fact encouraged the NUM to meet with its members.”

Binding agreement
Last week, Seshoka said Implats had increased miners’ salaries by 18%, but had excluded rock drillers and other categories, which triggered the illegal strike.

Impala denied that this was unilaterally done.

“A valid and binding wage agreement is in place between Impala and the recognised union, the NUM, as of October 2011. It needs to be pointed out that no increases were unilaterally awarded to any category of employees.

“The only increases were salary adjustments for the miners, which were implemented in full consultation with the NUM,” Implats said. — Sapa

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Gillian Jones
Guest Author

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