10/12/2012. Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi at the International Anti-Corruption Day roundtable at Unisa. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Johannesburg - Impala Platinum (Implats) rejected allegations by Cosatu on Thursday that it was manipulating union membership verification processes to benefit Amcu.

“(They are) totally unfounded and they've got no merit. Simple as that,” company spokesman Bob Gilmour said.

“I don't know where they come from.”

Earlier, the Congress of SA Trade Unions condemned the management of Implats, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), and Lonmin.

“(They) are manipulating the membership verification process and employing the age-old tactic of divide-and-rule, to the benefit of Amcu (the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union),” Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi claimed at a press briefing in Johannesburg.

Platinum producer Lonmin also denied the claims.

“There is no intimidation. We cannot decide who joins what union,” spokeswoman Sue Vey said.

Comment from Amplats could not immediately be obtained.

Vavi accused the management of the three companies of hypocrisy.

“(They) have sought to meet all demands of Amcu to cancel stop order facilities of the (Cosatu-affiliated) National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).”

Workers who insisted on remaining NUM members were threatened with retrenchment.

Vavi said the companies, with operations based in Rustenburg, had resolved that, if they were to guarantee peace at their places of work, had to give in to any Amcu demands.

He claimed the companies confirmed after a Cosatu march in Rustenburg in February that they had been forcing workers to resign from the NUM and join Amcu.

“They designed forms and forced workers to leave NUM, saying if they remain with NUM their safety was not guaranteed, and they will be the first on the line for retrenchment,” Vavi said.

Platinum mines in and around Rustenburg had been plagued by labour unrest since August.

Violent protests linked to rivalry between the NUM and Amcu have claimed the lives of at least 44 people.

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini said it was not opposed to unions seeking space in the workplace.

“They must follow the law. You do not parade workers and force them to join a rival union. That is where the problem is,” he said.

“Management apparently believes this is the only way to stop (the) unprotected strikes that have engulfed the platinum sector. The actions of management constitute the worst forms of union-bashing.”

Dlamini said Cosatu's campaign to defend the NUM and the SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) was beginning to bear fruit.

“Thousands of mineworkers who were misled or pressured to resign from the union that has fought for their dignity are returning to the union in droves,” he said.

“The membership of Satawu has increased from 160 000 to 193 000 due to the work by the union and the federation.”

The figures for the NUM were not available.

Amcu had threatened the presence of the NUM in platinum mines in Rustenburg and was slowly making inroads at the country's gold mines.

Vavi said there were 193 registered unions in South Africa, 117 of which were not affiliated to any federation.

He said there were 45 general unions, and many unions in retail, hospitality, cleaning, security, construction, food, fishing, and transport. - Sapa