The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) on Tuesday said it would be in the Labour Court to defend the right to strike at Impala Platinum (Implats) mines in Rustenburg in the North West.
Numsa said at least 4000 of its members were on strike, which started on Monday.
"Workers employed by contractors at Implats are paid a fraction of what permanent workers are earning,“ it said.
Numsa said, for example, a Rock Drill Operator (RDO) at Implats earned a minimum of R17000 per month, with benefits like medical aid and provident fund.
“But, a RDO who works for one of these backward contractors will earn not more than R5000 per month with no benefits whatsoever. It is utterly disgraceful that workers are expected to risk their lives underground for peanuts. It is obvious that the contractors operate like vultures, and they benefit from the suffering of workers,” it said.
The workers are employed by contract companies Newrak, Reagetswe Mining Group and Triple M Mining.
Numsa also wants Reagetswe to recognise their union and have previously taken them to court to recognise the union.
“Reagetswe has refused to engage us as a union on the demands workers are making,” it said, adding that it had ignored a court order from the Labour Court, which states that it must do verification to confirm that Numsa represented the majority of workers.
“We will be in court to fight the interdict and to defend the right to strike,” it said.
Implats said on Monday the labour problems lay with the with the three contracting firms.
Implats spokesman Johan Theron said while the strike won’t have a major impact on Implats, the company was concerned as some of the employees who worked on one of the shafts would be affected.