NUM members march on Northam Platinum offices

NUM workers are demanding wage increases of up to R2 100 for core workers and a living-out allowance of more than R3 700.

NUM workers are demanding wage increases of up to R2 100 for core workers and a living-out allowance of more than R3 700.

Northam Platinum workers belonging to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) marched on the company's offices in Dunkeld West on Tuesday to hand over a memorandum of demands related to their strike, which has lasted since November 3.

The workers are demanding wage increases of up to R2 100 for core workers and a living-out allowance of more than R3 700. The strike at Northam Platinum has, according to Northam Platinum, cost the company over R200-million in lost revenue. The company's wage offer so far has been 7.5% for non-core workers and 8.5% for core workers.
It is also demanding the resignation of chief executive Glyn Lewis, for failing to transform the company and his "weak" leadership during the yearly strikes.

Speaking to Mail & Guardian earlier this week, the NUM’s Northam Platinum chief negotiator Ecliff Tantsi said the company had been dragging its feet with regards to the negotiations, hence the march.

"Northam has been refusing to negotiate on time ever since May this year. They have timed the negotiation to start towards the Christmas break. They want to emotionally blackmail the workers to think of the Christmas break. We're on strike now and they're still refusing to negotiate.

"If we don't fight that attitude, there is nothing to stop other employers from using the Christmas break as leverage against the strike."

Workers handed over a memorandum to finance director Ayanda Khumalo ​at the company's offices. Among the demands is a hydropower allowance of R1 000 to compensate for what the workers said were the adverse effects of hydro-powered mining equipment.

Workers also demanded four months of paid maternity leave, which they said was the industry standard, as opposed to the one-month paid leave they were currently receiving.

Workers also bemoaned "the company's cowardly strategy" of open letters to the NUM general secretary Frans Baleni, which they said was wasteful expenditure.

This strike is widely seen as one of the most pivotal in the NUM's recent history as it seeks to reinvigorate its image having suffered massive losses to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union​ (Amcu) at Rustenburg mines such as Impala, Amplats and Lonmin.

The union is effectively demanding increases of up to 40% at Zondereinde.

Earlier this month, Amcu, which is holding wage talks with the three platinum producers, capitulated from its stance of R12 500, the rallying cry emanating from the ill-fated Marikana strike where 34 Lonmin mineworkers were killed by policemen on August 16.

Amcu was understood to be asking for R8 600 in basic wages, a R3 000 increase over current basic wages.

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