Mineworkers call for new union
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The mineworkers involved in the wildcat strikes gripping parts of the platinum belt in the North West and other mining industries in the Northern Cape and Gauteng called for the creation of a new trade union at the weekend.
The call to unite under one structure was well received at a meeting arranged by the Democratic Socialist Movement and its affiliate, the Democratic Left Front, with workers and their representatives attending from mining companies around the country.
Speakers argued that existing unions had been standing in the way of the progress of workers for decades and accused them of pocketing millions of rand in the process, while workers struggled to make ends meet.
Gaddafi Mdoda, a leader representing workers at Anglo American Platinum, said the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was struggling to survive in the face of a daily exodus of workers from the union who felt they were better off championing their own interests.
Mdoda said unions were getting too big a slice of the workers’ income. He said NUM was deducting sums of R68, R90 and R150 a month for different levels of employees.
He claimed that union leaders often received incentives from management to avoid strike action.
He added that it was unacceptable that there were workers who had been employed for periods of three to nine years yet were still under contract and not employed on a permanent basis.
Workers at Angloplat are seeking a basic, all-inclusive salary of R16 070 a month for the lowest level of worker. However, they did indicate they were willing to negotiate but would most likely stop at a minimum level of R13 000
Further strikes were expected to start today at AngloGold Ashanti’s operations in Carletonville, which may worsen the situation at Gold Fields’ KDC West mine in the town, where striking miners face dismissal and eviction from the hostels.
Alec Thraves, of the Socialist Party of England and Wales, said millions of trade unionists were behind the striking mineworkers.
He called for an end to union officials who were closer to management than the workers, and the establishment of a shop stewards’ committee to work outside of the unions. – Ayanda Mdluli