NUM not threatened by Amcu, says Seshoka

Lesiba Seshoka says the NUM still dominates the mining sector. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Lesiba Seshoka says the NUM still dominates the mining sector. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

 Matuma Letsoalo spoke to its spokesperson, Lesiba Seshoka, about these issues.

The NUM's demand for a 60% salary increase has been criticised inside and outside the industry. How do you justify such a high demand?
The demand is not for 60%, but a demand to improve the basic wages, which has been a demand that has been on the table for the past 18 years in a bid to close the apartheid wage gap. We believe it's time to ensure that the apartheid wage gap is closed.
Basic wages for a ­surface worker are currently at R4 700 a month. What can a person do with that?

You also want a 344% increase in the housing allowance for members – from R1 800 a month to R8 000 a month. Is this reasonable?
It is totally not true that we demand a 344% increase. The R1 800 that companies offer is not a housing allowance but a living-out allowance that allows workers to live out of hostels in shacks. This is totally unacceptable.

Is your high wage increase is nothing but a strategy to prevent more of your members from joining  the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu)?
It is not true that we are doing it to stop members from leaving the union. It is pure nonsense by political commentators who simply want to see the demise of our union by spreading lies.

Are you worried that your high salary demand will hit the economy hard and result in ­further job loses in the industry?
When chief executive officers get huge salary increases there are no worries that the economy will be hurt, but when workers demand 60% of R4700 there are such worries, so the economy is discriminatory. We are not fighting the economy, we are fighting the discrimination in the economy.

The NUM leadership last year criticised Amcu's high salary demand, saying it would have a serious negative impact on bargaining. What has changed between then and now?
The reason the union criticised Amcu on the 22% last year was simply because it was outside ­bargaining structures and through an illegal, violent strike action. Simple.

Are you threatened by Amcu's growth in the mining industry?
As a union, we are not threatened by Amcu. It remains dominant in the platinum belt. There are other ­sectors, such as coal and gold, where the NUM is dominant. The fact of the matter is the NUM is dominant in the entire mining sector.

Do you take responsibility for the decline of the NUM, particularly in the platinum belt?
We take full responsibility for what happened in the platinum sector. We remain confident that if there is stability and peace, we will be able to regain our membership.


What strategy do you have to regain the lost ground in the mining industry?

We are not in a position to divulge our strategy on how we are planning to regain membership.


Will the NUM support a motion of no confidence against Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi next week?

The NUM knows nothing about a motion of no confidence. So, we are unable to comment about something we don't know about. But it is safe to say the leadership collective of Cosatu was elected last year and must be allowed to complete its term.



Matuma Letsoalo is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003, focussing on politics and labour, and collaborated with the M&G's centre for investigations, amaBhungane, from time to time.In 2011, Matuma won the South African Journalist of the Year Award and was also the winner in the investigative journalism category in the same year.In 2004, he won the CNN African Journalist of the Year prize – the MKO Abiola Print Journalism Award. Matuma was also a joint category winner of the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the year Award in 2008. In 2013, he was a finalist for Wits University's Taco Kuiper Award. Read more from ML

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