/ 31 May 2012

NUM plans disciplinary action over Baleni salary leak

Frans Baleni.
Frans Baleni.

National Union of Mineworkers is investigating the source of leaks to the Mail & Guardian, which revealed the R1.4-million salary of general secretary Frans Baleni prior to last week’s elective conference.

A senior NUM official said Baleni had instructed human resources staff to formulate charges against a senior manager, who is known to the M&G.

Baleni’s spokesperson, Lesiba Seshoka, this week denied that Baleni had instructed anyone to press charges against NUM employees, but confirmed that an investigation had been launched into the leaking of confidential information.

“The NUM will conduct an in-depth investigation into the leaking of confidential information in the media as that is against organisational policies and protocol. If the investigation finds anyone to have behaved in an improper manner and divulged such information, drastic disciplinary measures will be taken in terms of the NUM’s disciplinary code and procedure,” said Seshoka.

In a new development, it has emerged that Baleni is also drawing an annual stipend of close to R400 000 from the Development Bank of South Africa. He serves on the boards of both the bank and its development fund.

Highest-paid unionists
Baleni, who last weekend defeated his former deputy, Oupa Komane, for the top position of general secretary, has come under fire after the M&G revealed that his salary was increased by more than 40% last year to a whopping R77 000 a month, whereas ordinary mineworkers struggle to make ends meet.

Confidential documents in possession of the M&G show that Baleni receives a basic salary of R77 000 a month and his total salary package is just more than R105 000 a month. This makes him one of the highest-paid unionists in South Africa.

Cosatu and other affiliated unions have been consistently critical of excessive executive packages that prevail despite the high level of poverty in the country.
In a recent interview, Baleni defended the decision to increase his salary, saying it was not out of the market range.

“Periodically, the union does a market survey to look at salaries for everybody to check if they are in line with what is in the market and adjusts accordingly,” said Baleni.
Although Seshoka denied that Baleni was also targeting employees who allegedly campaigned against him, he said the union would investigate allegations about bribery and irregular campaign funding.

“As far as the NUM is concerned, we are not aware of anyone who has been threatened with disciplinary action due to campaigning. I guess people who were involved in campaigning are just having unfounded fears and are haunted by paranoia.

“Indeed, the NUM will launch an investigation into the allegations of bribery and campaign funding. At this stage I am not able to confirm or deny that Shiva Uranium is one of the service providers being investigated, but what I can say is that an investigation into a number of service providers will be conducted, especially on the allegations of improper conduct,” said Seshoka.

Business Day quoted Baleni as saying this week that Shiva had apologised for interfering in the NUM leadership battle by providing financial resources.

Seshoka also said Baleni had received permission from the union’s national executive committee to serve on the board of the Development Bank.

“The general secretary has been deployed there [at the bank] and his deployment was endorsed by the national executive committee of the union. Before anyone serves in a particular board, be it a politician or staff member, it has to be endorsed by the highest decision-making body of the union, the NEC,” said Seshoka.