Amplats’s bid to fine leaders of Amcu fails

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Johannesburg - Anglo American Platinum’s (Amplats’s) application for the executive leadership of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) to be fined or arrested was dismissed by the Labour Court last week as the wage strike entered its seventh week.

On Thursday Judge Andre van Niekerk dismissed the application to have Joseph Mathunjwa, Amcu’s president, and Jimmy Gama, the national treasurer, arrested or fined.

The judge found that the interim court order on picketing rules granted last month was ambiguous and said that the company had failed to establish that Gama and Mathunjwa had failed or refused to comply with the order granted on January 24.

Amplats wanted the court to hold the office bearers in contempt of court for failing to comply with a court order that was granted on the second day of Amcu’s wage strike.

The company blamed Amcu’s leaders for ignoring the interim interdict that compelled members to comply with picketing rules. These rules were established at a meeting between the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and employers.

Amcu had been absent from the meeting.

The union has subsequently challenged the picketing rules as it says it is unhappy with some aspects.

In its application papers, Amplats cited incidents of Amcu members inciting violence, causing damage to property, and preventing non-striking employees from going to work.

Some of the instances also included allegations that members had gathered at picketing sites armed with knobkieries and other dangerous weapons.

“We are happy that Amplats’s attempts to use courts to fight a collective bargaining battle were hampered. Their application lacked credence and was based on their desperation,” Gama said on Friday.

The trade union’s advocate, Naseem Cassim, argued that the court interdict and the demand for the office bearers to be arrested were part of a strategy to break the union.

“It was little more than a stratagem to undermine the ability of the union and its members to exercise the right to strike, and that an order for costs was appropriate”.

The case appeared before the court on February 21, and at the time neither the union nor the respondents had filed an answering affidavit.

The case was postponed to last Wednesday for Mathunjwa, Gama and Amcu to file responding affidavits.

Judgment was passed the following day.

It was agreed that for the rest for the rest of the respondents, responding affidavits would be made at a later stage.

Meanwhile, a member of the National Union of Mineworkers who works for Grinaker LTA at Amplats’s Union Mine in Limpopo, was attacked on his way to work on Thursday.

More than 70 000 members of Amcu have been on strike at Amplats, Lonmin and Impala Platinum since January 23, in support of their demand for a R12 500 basic monthly wage for the lowest-paid underground workers.

Amplats has also sued Amcu for R591 million in damages during the strike.

The union has until March 14 to show cause why the interim order delineating picketing rules should not be made a compulsory order.

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