Reject Malema, return to work: union

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malema at gold fields mine INLSA (File photo) Julius Malema salutes striking miners at Gold Fields as he arrives to address their problems. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

Johannesburg - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Tuesday appealed to miners to reject expelled ANCYL leader Julius Malema's “hogwash” and return to work.

“Thousands of miners stand to lose their jobs due to irresponsible comments by Malema and his ilk,” spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said.

Speaking to striking workers at Gold Fields' Driefontein mine outside Carletonville, on Tuesday, Malema called on all workers to strike.

“There must be a national strike at all the mines until Frans Baleni and the NUM leadership step down with immediate effect,” Malema told the workers.

Baleni is the union's secretary-general.

The union said Malema's statement was “irresponsible”.

“His call on workers to embark on illegal strikes is totally irresponsible and childish.

“We condemn his attack on NUM leadership and the behaviour of taking advantage of vulnerable people to score cheap political points.”

Seshoka said it was “fallacious” for Malema to claim that Baleni owned shares in the mining sector, or that he received money from mining houses.

“The claim that Baleni sits on boards of mining houses is untrue. We will investigate all these claims and take appropriate legal action.”

The mine employed around 15,000 people, and 80 percent of them belonged to NUM.

Among their demands, handed in the previous day, was that the NUM leadership at their branch be replaced.

A group of up to 1500 workers, who were NUM members, brought their grievances directly to management.

“They are doing this outside of the formal NUM structures,” company spokesman Sven Lunsche said.

At the same time, the union's regional leaders were at the mine trying to resolve the situation. They held meetings on Monday and Tuesday.

Lunsche said a similar scenario had played out at KDC East mine last week. A demand there was also that the NUM branch leadership be removed. That was resolved after intervention by NUM, and workers returned to their posts. - Sapa



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