Johannesburg - The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) says its members at Implats mine in Rustenburg are under threat, following the assassination of a union recruiter Malibongwe Mdazo last week.
Mdazo was shot dead outside the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) offices while verification of Numsa membership of workers at Newrak, a mining services company, was under way. Implats is one the world’s biggest producers of platinum and associated platinum group metals.
Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola says Mdazo was killed while taking a break from the CCMA proceedings. The union suspects the recruiter was shot because he was a mass mobiliser. His death has shaken workers at Implats.
“Tensions have been caused by contract companies at Implats. There are five contract companies which provide services to Implats. The majority of the workforce to Implats is outsourced to the contractors.
“These contractors are refusing to recognise Numsa. They are actively undermining our efforts and, in some cases, forcing workers to renounce their membership of Numsa,” HlubiMajola said.
She said that in July, 7 000 workers went on a illegal strike for three weeks as part of efforts to have various companies recognise Numsa as their preferred union. There is strong contestation at Implats between Numsa and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) recruiters.
“We managed to negotiate for them to be reinstated and so as part of the settlement which was negotiated by the Department of Employment and Labour, all five contract companies had to submit to a CCMA verification process to confirm Numsa representation so that we can finally be granted recognition rights and represent our members,” she said.
Hlubi-Majola accused the contractors of meddling with the workers’ choice of either Numsa or Amcu.
“We believe comrade Mdazo was killed because he is responsible for recruiting thousands of workers to Numsa, this is why he was murdered.
“There are some who are threatened by Numsa taking over as the dominant union at Implats and the contractors may be involved.”
A video circulating on social media shows Mdazo during a recruitment drive lobbying workers to join Numsa. He was surrounded by a number of workers who were singing.
Police are investigating his murder. Meanwhile, Numsa workers at Implats have been asked to be vigilant.
Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa was not available for comment.