Johannesburg - Marikana could once again be hit by a strike if the mining company Lonmin doesn’t compromise or recognise the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) as the majority union.
On Wednesday, Amcu members decided on a strike at a mass meeting at the Wonderkop Stadium in Marikana.
This is after Lonmin and Amcu failed to conclude a union recognition agreement after the latter assumed the helm as the majority union, replacing the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).
Addressing about 3 000 members, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa explained that it was up to the workers to decide on the next move following a deadlock.
With union rivalry blamed for some deaths on the mines, Mathunjwa seemed to be taking no chances as he arrived in a black Mercedes-Benz S500 flanked by two bodyguards.
A number of NUM national office-bearers have also been assigned bodyguards amid growing tension in the mines.
Mathunjwa said the CCMA had declared a dispute and then decided for them that they should go for arbitration.
“We told the commissioner, ‘you are mad’. He can’t decide for us when we were the ones who brought the matter to the CCMA.”
Mathunjwa then explained to the workers that they had two choices: they could decide to go to arbitration or to give Lonmin a 48-hour strike notice.
Cheers signalled that Amcu members chose to go on strike.
The leader then asked them to allow him to go on Thursday and give Lonmin an ultimatum, which would end on Tuesday, to change its position over the recognition agreement.
“If Tuesday ends and they still sing the same tune, then we will give them a notice on Wednesday and the strike should resume from Saturday,” he said.
Amcu is demanding a representation threshold that will ensure rival NUM is shut out.
Amcu claims to have about 70 percent of union membership on the mine, while NUM has dropped to about 20 percent.
Mathunjwa said Amcu was demanding that recognition be given to unions with 35 percent, which would then get basic rights.
This would include the right to hold meetings and to have monthly subscription fees deducted from the salaries of members.
The next level would be 45 percent, which would give that union rights to have full-time shop stewards and sit in at salary negotiations.
A union with 50 percent would enjoy all the rights and lead the negotiations.
Meanwhile, the NUM was recently given until July 16 by the Labour Court to remain in its Lonmin office and recoup some of its lost membership. - The Star