Union puts restraint on Village Main Reefretrenchment plan in bid to seek fairness
JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has interdicted the Section 189 process at Village Main Reef (VMR) to ensure its members are fairly compensated amid the company’s restructuring plans, which will affect its 6000-strong workforce.
Masibulele Naki, the NUM’s regional secretary for the Matlosana region, said yesterday that the union had interdicted VMR’s Section 189 plan.
“They (VMR) received letters from our lawyers yesterday (Wednesday) and were given until the close of business today to respond, failing which they will receive a motion of interdict by tomorrow,” Naki said.
“We are interdicting the Section 189 process to get to the bottom of their severance package payment plan.
“We cannot finalise this process, whereas there are issues of payment hanging,” said Naki, adding that during the consultation, the company had said 3977 people would be retrenched and 2003 would remain.
In April, VMR said that there might be a need to consider possible retrenchments to meet its economic challenges and to restructure its business, according to new operational requirements for the Tau Lekoa and Kopanang mines, and the West Gold Plant.
But no decisions had been made so far.
The company said Heaven-Sent Gold, the business’ shareholders, had requested a fundamental restructuring of the assets and would only consider a continued funding of the operations after a revised operational plan.
During an SABC interview, VMR chief executive Jeff Dong said the company had informed all its stakeholders about its difficult financial position and no decision had been made on the retrenchments.
“The plan is to restructure, so the operations can be sustained under the current situation. Retrenchments will be potentially as a result of the restructuring,” Dong said.
Naki charged that the company planned to halve the severance packages.
“During the consultation process, the company said it would pay severance packages as per the Labour Relations Act, not as per the agreement we signed during wage negotiations,” said Naki, referring to the act, which requires that workers receive one week of pay per year.
“How can they announce a Section 189 and embark on the process of consultation, and during it announce that they do not have money?”
He said that to add insult to injury the company had not paid employees their salaries since the Covid-19 lockdown in March.
Employees have taken to the street since the lockdown began to demand that their salaries be paid.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE