Workers from companies under Oakbay Investments, owned by the Gupta family, marched to three leading banks which have withdrawn their services to the company. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya
HARARE - As thousands of Cosatu members are taking to the streets today over corruption and state capture, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), said yesterday that it wanted to save 8500 jobs at the Gupta-owned company Oakbay Resources after a court ruling earlier this month left the company without a bank.

NUM president Piet Matosa said that Oakbay had already stopped workers from going to work, because they would not be able to pay them at the end of the pay cycle.

Matosa said that Oakbay had no facilities to pay its workers at the Optimum Coal Mine and the Koornfontein and Brakfontein collieries in Mpumalanga.

It also could not pay its employees at JCI Mining Services and Shiva Uranium in North West.

“It is on this basis that we have written to the chief executives of First National Bank, Absa, Standard Bank and Nedbank to request a meeting with them,” said Matosa.

Oakbay lost its court bid to stop the Bank of Baroda (BoB) from closing its bank accounts earlier this month.

BoB was the last bank to provide services to the Guptas after South Africa's big banks and the Bank of China severed ties saying they could not do business with the family, because of the regulations around money laundering.

“To us, the issue is about the jobs that are going to be lost. These jobs are being destroyed, not because minerals have been depleted underground, but it is because of the position that the banks have taken,” Matosa said.

“The NUM has a responsibility to lead its members and to save jobs.

"They (the members) are innocent victims because of a decision by the banks,” said Matosa. “We cannot be a union that keeps quiet when jobs are being destroyed.

"They are adding to a number of job losses that are in the pipeline, the last time we checked 20000 jobs were on the line,” Matosa said.

Around 20000 jobs are in jeopardy this year alone in mining after the world’s third largest gold producer AngloGold Ashanti said 8500 employees could lose their jobs as it planned to shut down unprofitable shafts.

Sibanye Gold said 7400 employees could be affected as it restructures its operations.

Last week, Impala Platinum - the world’s second largest platinum producer - also said it would possibly shed 2500 jobs across its assets in response to the weak platinum price environment.

Cosatu is planning a national shutdown against corruption and state capture by rogue elements in close proximity to the governing ANC elite.

NUM general secretary David Sipunzi, who also attended the media briefing yesterday, said: “We expect all NUM's members to be out there They are lazy if they stay at home."

But the NUM’s arch rival, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), said that the scope of this protest action dealt with self-inflicted challenges which emanated from poor leadership, underpinned by corruption.

“The issue of protesting against state capture is playing to the gallery as there are processes under way to deal with it,” Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa pointed out.

“We are surprised that the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) sanctioned this protest action, since the public protector has commissioned due process to commence.

"We have previously been denied certificates by Nedlac for protest action on the basis that due process would resolve these matters,” Mathunjwa added.