Kumba strike ‘a safety issue’

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Kumbaironore

Independent Newspapers

Two workers at a Kumba Iron Ore mine. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Johannesburg -

Kumba Iron Ore will not negotiate on wages, only on safety, spokesman Gert Schoeman said on Thursday.

“There are no negotiations on wages. The issue on the table is safety.”

The mine concluded a wage settlement with its recognised unions just two months, he said.

However, striking workers were creating unsafe conditions at the Kathu mine in the Northern Cape.

“It is unsafe for them to be there, and it is unsafe for us to mine there.”

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) in the Northern Cape complained on Thursday that they had been left out of talks to resolve the strike.

Swanepoel said this was ironic, as the NUM had distanced itself from the strike action until now.

“If the NUM can assist, we would welcome them,” he said.

“We would like to normalise our operations so we can get on with our business, which is mining.”

Regarding NUM allegations that Kumba had brought in outsiders to assist, Swanepoel said Kumba had engaged a local security company to protect its property, and had the right to bring in advisers as it saw fit.

Cosatu and NUM complained about Kumba's conduct during the strike.

“The company keeps on shifting the goalposts as we attempt to bring the current unprotected strike to an end,” they said in a joint statement on Thursday.

Union representatives met Kumba management on Tuesday in an attempt to resolve the strike.

“We adjourned the meeting when we realised that they did not have a mandate to strike an agreement,” the NUM and Cosatu said.

They claimed that at a follow-up meeting, Kumba representatives said they were not prepared to talk to the NUM as they did not want outsiders.

However, an independent mediator, private security guards and the police - all of which were outsiders - had already become involved.

“Our members are not prepared to continue with the negotiations without the NUM and the Congress of SA Trade Unions and therefore the negotiations have been stalled,” they said. - Sapa


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