Amcu declared official majority union at Lonmin

The recognition of all other unions at the platinum mine has been revoked.

An employee recognition agreement which acknowledges The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) as the majority union, as it represents more than 60% of the workforce, was signed on Wednesday –  just two days before one year anniversary of the Marikana massacre at Lonmin’s Rustenburg mine.

The recognition agreement will see Amcu becoming the majority union over the National Union of Mineworkers which has held a dominant position for years and began to lose members steadily before the Marikana massacre, and rapidly thereafter. The loss of membership has seen the NUM slip from its top slot in Cosatu.

The new recognition agreement, which will only be in effect in 2014’s wage negotiations, sees not only the recognition of the NUM (which now represents 20% of the workforce) revoked, but also that of smaller unions Solidarity and Uasa, which have typically represented skilled workers in the mining industry and who jointly only represent about 4% of the total Lonmin workforce.

The agreement will require a 30% representation to gain basic rights, such as access and deductions. A 40% membership would entitle a union to have full-time stop stewards on the premises and bargaining rights, while a representation of 50% plus one defines a majority union.

'Principles of coexistence'
Abey Kgotle, Lonmin’s executive manager of human capital, said the principles of coexistence were enshrined in the agreement with Amcu.

But Solidarity condemned the terms of the agreement: "The undemocratic principle of majority recognition was one of the main causes that led to the events at Marikana and to other violent labour unrest. The suspension of the recognition of Solidarity and other minority trade unions by Lonmin again creates a climate for continued labour unrest and deprives members of the constitutional right to freedom of association."

Solidarity said it was appealing to Lonmin to reconsider its ill-considered decision, "especially in light of the selfless support given to the company by the trade union and its members to restore labour stability in the workplace after the Marikana events".

"Should Lonmin not restore Solidarity’s recognition in the workplace, it would be clear that the company is sacrificing sound labour relations in favour of the pressure being brought to bear on it by majority union, Amcu. Amcu is thus being rewarded for its extortion that Lonmin yielded to, and Lonmin will now be held."

Lonmin chief executive Ben Magara said that after "intense negotiations" he was delighted to announce the signing of the recognition agreement. "It is excellent news for Lonmin, for our employees and for all our stakeholders. I would like to recognise the efforts of both our teams, Amcu and Lonmin."

Joseph Mathunjwa, president of Amcu, said: "We have different mandates, but we acknowledge that without co-operation we are all losers and that, as leaders, we must find a way to ensure we can move forward together in peace and stability. In particular I would like to thank the membership of Amcu and their teams, for their patience as we sought to conclude the agreement."

Both parties noted it was significant that their agreement was being signed in the week of the commemoration of the tragic events of last year.

"This shows that the victims did not die in vain and we pledge to continue with their fight for a living wage," Mathunjwa said.

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


In East Africa, the locusts are coming back for more

In February the devastating locust swarms were the biggest seen in East Africa for 70 years. Now they’re even bigger

Western Cape Judge Mushtak Parker faces second misconduct complaint

The Cape Bar Council says his conduct is ‘unbecoming the holding of judicial office’

‘My biggest fear was getting the virus and dying in...

South African Wuhan evacuee speaks about his nine-week ordeal

Border walls don’t stop viruses, but a blanket amnesty might

Why South Africa should consider amnesty for undocumented migrants in the time of the coronavirus outbreak.

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories