Johannesburg - Since the labour turmoil started on the platinum belt in the North West and Limpopo in 2012, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says it has lost around 25 000 members.
Although the number has increased and decreased over the period, the figure stood at 275 000 in April this year. In May 2013 it was over 294 000. Before the so-called Marikana massacre in 2012 where 34 miners were gunned down by the police in one day, NUM had over 300,000 members.
The NUM’s breakaway and biggest rival, Amcu, claims it gained over 70 000 of the union’s members who were unsatisfied with the way it was being run and the perception that its bosses were close to capital.
NUM general secretary Frans Baleni told his union’s central committee meeting outside Johannesburg on Wednesday that the membership figure was in fact around 90 000 more than the audited numbers showed.
“There is a lot of membership that hasn’t been processed because of poor processing,” he said.
“But comrades we can do better. It is time we defend ourselves and not run away. We need to be more aggressive.”
The NUM is holding a three-day meeting to look at various issues, including looking at how it can increase its membership base which is mainly being eroded by Amcu and retrenchments. Its sister affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers, has also become a threat.
The NUM, which was once the biggest and most powerful union in the country, has had to readjust its recruitment figures.
Baleni said the union had initially aimed to recruit over 100 000 members by April 2014. But it had only managed to attract over 11 000 people.
A total of 73% of its members are from the mining sector.
African National Congress Jessie Duarte told the meeting that the NUM needed to analyse why it had lost members and consolidate its base.
“The must have been dissatisfied with the service they were getting from the NUM otherwise they would not have been open to recruitment from other forces,” she said.