THE management of Newrak Mining, Triple M Mining and Reagetswe Mining, which are contracting firms to Impala Platinum’s Rustenburg mining operations, cleared the air yesterday as labour union the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) beats the strike drum.
On Tuesday Reagetswe won an interdict against the strike, declaring the strike unprotected and directed employees to return to work, while the firms said Triple M and Newrak would be applying for interdicts in the course of this week.
The firms said in a statement yesterday that they regretted the illegal strike action being carried out by Numsa members at its client, while refuting many of the labour union’s claims.
The companies in a joint statement said they were small businesses and could ill afford a loss in production.
“Losses this week have amounted to some R30 million,” they said.
“We trust Numsa will recognise that unprotected strikes could have implications for members’ job security, and that they make the responsible decision of calling off the strike,” they said, adding that job security was an important issue and the companies would like to avoid any job losses for all of their employees and the impact it would have on their livelihoods and families.
The three companies also said they would like to correct a number of incorrect claims that have been made by Numsa in respect of their operations.
There were different circumstances applying at the three companies.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union was the majority union at Reagetswe and Triple M, with Numsa representing between 16 and 26 percent of employees, they said.
This as Numsa this week aired its grievances as not being recognised as the main union at Reagetswe and Triple M, saying both companies had been ordered by the Labour Court to conduct verification to confirm that Numsa was the majority union.
The statement said Numsa was given limited organising rights at Triple M to enable it to improve its representation. However, after 14 months, the union was unable to improve its representation.
“In contrast, Numsa is the largest union at Newrak and is recognised by the company. Newrak cannot offer Numsa access rights on Impala’s property. The union, however, was offered office facilities outside the Impala property. This offer was rejected by Numsa, the contractors said.
The contractors said it noted claims that Numsa had made about “exploitative” wages and working conditions.
“This is false, including the claim that some earn ‘R5 000 a month’. No employee earns anything near that low amount for a full month’s work,“ they said, adding that there were also claims about a lack of benefits.
“This too is false. Employees of the three companies receive medical and retirement fund benefits as well as living out allowances and funeral cover,” they claimed.
The three firms said it was essential to note that the three contractor companies were commissioned to undertake a very different type of mining from standard Impala operations.
“We are hired to mine shorter-life and hence higher-cost mines. This means that our cost structures are very different. One of the shafts was identified for closure by Impala in 2017 and is being mined by one of the contractor companies, preserving 3 000 jobs over the past five years,” they stated.