Lonmin, unions' dispute still not resolved as CCMA postpones hearing

Tensions between mines and union members have been tense.  (Madelene Cronje)

Tensions between mines and union members have been tense. (Madelene Cronje)

The postponement on Monday in the arbitration hearing about recognition between Lonmin, and trade unions the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Uasa, and Solidarity was not opposed by any of the parties, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) said.

In May, Amcu and Lonmin entered into negotiations about a recognition agreement which would govern the relationship between them.

This process was provided for in terms of the Labour Relations Act, if a union could demonstrate sufficient membership at the workplace.

Talks between Lonmin and the union were unsuccessful, and on May 10 Amcu referred a dispute to the CCMA. The parties met at the CCMA on four occasions in an attempt to resolve the matter.

A certificate of non-resolution was issued at the last conciliation hearing on May 23. The next day, Lonmin referred the dispute to arbitration and an arbitration process began on June 26.

This time, the three other unions with a presence at Lonmin were joined as interested parties to the dispute.
The matter was postponed to July 29.

Recognition
These proceedings were different to the trade union recognition agreement dispute between NUM and Amcu at Lonmin.

In the this matter, the NUM dropped below the threshold of 50% plus one, as required for recognition at the mine.

As a result, in April, Lonmin gave the NUM three months' notice of its intention to withdraw from their existing recognition agreement if the union was unable to increase its member numbers to the required level.

On May 28, the NUM approached the Labour Court in Johannesburg for an order interdicting Lonmin from terminating the recognition agreement before the July 16 deadline.

However, the court confirmed that the NUM had until that date to increase its membership to the required threshold.

On July 2, the NUM referred a dispute about the interpretation and application of the recognition agreement between itself and Lonmin to the CCMA.

The union alleged that Lonmin had acted in contravention of the recognition agreement in transferring its members to Amcu.

On July 11, the NUM launched an urgent application in the Labour Court in Johannesburg to prevent Lonmin from terminating the recognition agreement.

The matter was dismissed on grounds of no urgency and was referred to CCMA. It would be heard on Tuesday. –Sapa

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