/ 24 May 2013

Shabangu criticises trade unions for ‘decimating each other’

Shabangu Criticises Trade Unions For 'decimating Each Other'

"We are calling for a peaceful coexistence of unions in the mining industry; let freedom of association prevail," said Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu on Friday.

"The NUM [National Union of Mineworkers] is not the enemy of Amcu [Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union], and Amcu is not and should not be the enemy of NUM."

Shabangu told the union's central committee meeting in Pretoria that the unions needed to join hands as they had one common class enemy: "monopoly capital".

"You are both organisations that should represent the class interests of mineworkers … Monopoly can only thrive through divide and rule. Instead of joining hands and promoting unity, trade unions are busy decimating each other, as we have seen last week."

Rivalry between NUM and Amcu in Rustenburg and the mining sector had intensified and escalated into violence.

Last week, tempers flew as Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa tore into NUM general secretary Frans Baleni during a Radio 702 broadcast. In the show, Mathunjwa claimed that the notice period for the NUM to vacate its Marikana office, in fact, ended last year. Baleni did not counter this claim directly, except to say that Amcu had been party to a peace accord signing, in which parties had stressed freedom of association as pivotal.

The week of mudslinging included a two-day work stoppage, during which Amcu supporters still reeling from the previous weekend's murder of regional organiser Mawethu Steven took to Wonderkop stadium to vent their frustration at what they saw as the unreasonable presence of the NUM. On the same day of Steven's murder in Photsaneng, a few kilometres away in Nkaneng, Marikana, Ayanda and Andile Menzi, aged 24, were killed in what is believed to be a revenge killing.

NUM not responsible
Meanwhile, Shabangu said that the NUM cannot be held responsible for the violence in the mining industry.

"As I believe, the NUM belongs to the discipline of the left therefore it cannot be held responsible for the violence on other unions. It can also never be correct that marches are being held to scare management to close the office of minority trade unions."

The minister said the right to associate or disassociate was enshrined in the Constitution.

NUM needed to represent its workers without fear or favour, she said, adding that violence and murder could not be used to coerce people to join a union.

Shabangu added that it was a testing time for the NUM. – Sapa