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25 Apr 2019 14:17
Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union. (Reuters)
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) last held an elective congress in 2013 and has “come up with excuses” for why it has not done so.
This is the reason provided by the department of labour in a statement on Thursday, explaining the decision of the labour registrar to issue a notice of his intention to deregister the union.
The move is set to result in a showdown between the union and the government on the cusp of a May 8 elections.
In 2014, Joseph Mathunjwa — the head of Amcu — threatened that blocking it from functioning as a union would force it to become a political party.
The union — which rose to prominence during the labour unrest which led to the Marikana massacre in 2012 — began as a breakaway from the ANC-aligned National Union of Mineworkers.
The notice issued on Tuesday, said registrar of labour Lehlohonolo Daniel Molefe, was providing acting in terms of Section 106 (2B) of the Labour Relations Act to cancel the union’s registration. The reasons provided was that the union has “ceased to function in terms of its constitution” and that the “trade union is not a genuine trade union as envisaged in the Act”.
The union has been at loggerheads with the department over whether it complies with legislation to run a trade union since 2014. Requirements by law include having a constitution, audited finances and holding regular elective conferences.
Molefe on Thursday said Amcu’s failure to hold a congress was in contravention of the unions own constitution.
“Since 2015 up to 2018, there have been numerous letters to AMCU requesting the date of their National Congress without success”, Molefe said in a statement from the labour department.
“The Registrar said every time they enquired about the union’s national congress, AMCU has on several occasions come with excuses.”
Amcu had last year undertaken to hold its national congress in May 2019, but when contacted about this by the registrar in February, the union said it was concerned over the “unusual attention” the union was paying to it.
“AMCU accused this office of lacking consistency in the approach when it comes to unions”, said Molefe.
Amcu subsequently undertook to hold its congress in September, but the registrar said he was not convinced this would happen.
The notice of deregistration comes on the cusp of the opening of wage talks in the platinum sector, where Amcu is the major labour player. The union has some 200 000 members mostly in the platinum and coal sectors.
The Mail & Guardian reported on infighting in the union last year, after Amcu leadership was insistent on the transferring workers’ savings from the Impala Worker Provident Fund to the Igula fund.
Natasha Marrian is Mail & Guardian's politics editor. Read more from Natasha Marrian
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