File photo: Supplied

Johannesburg - Impala Platinum (Implats) denied Cosatu's claims on Monday that National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) members were not being granted access to the company's operations in the North West.

Spokesman Johan Theron said in a statement that 20 former NUM shop stewards had refused to either return as ordinary workers or accepted voluntary separation agreements.

This followed NUM being replaced by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) as the majority union at the company's Rustenburg operations.

“The recognition agreement with the NUM is very clear about such an event (majority-union status) and how all matters would be dealt with, including full-time and elected shop stewards,” he said.

“Accordingly, over the past 18 months the majority of deposed stewards have either returned as ordinary workers or accepted a voluntary separation agreement according to the provisions of the agreement.”

Earlier on Monday, Congress of SA Trade Unions' provincial secretary Solly Phetoe said NUM members were being denied access to Implats's operations in the North West.

NUM is a Cosatu affiliate.

“Management have been engaging with the federation for some time since 2012 until when the (platinum) strike started,” Phetoe said in a statement.

Discussions were suspended so Implats could focus on negotiations with Amcu during the five-month-long strike in the platinum sector.

The platinum strike came to an end on June 24, having begun on January 23.

Phetoe said the main issue was the safety of NUM members, and Implats needing to produce a security plan for shop stewards and members seeking to return to work.

Cosatu presented Implats with a memorandum in April and had not received a response until Monday.

“Now management are saying that the NUM must not come. Even workers who are rejoining the NUM are denied entry by management,” he claimed.

“Management, however, could not produce a security plan in writing but were saying that everything is safe, our members can come back.”

He called upon Implats chief executive Terence Goodlace to take up the matter, and if there was no response by the end of next week, Cosatu would approach Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi for help.

Theron said security concerns were being used so the former shop stewards could receive their monthly wages while staying at home.

“The reality remains that NUM stewards who have returned back to work have all integrated back into the workforce without any problem,” he said.

Implats had secured an undertaking from Amcu that it would welcome these workers back, and expect them to not provoke labour problems.

“Under these provisions we have now served the NUM stewards with a final return to work notice.” - Sapa