The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) strongly condemns the alleged sexual harassment incident at Lanxess’s Mine in Rustenburg, North West Province. The alleged perpetrator is a member of the NUM. The NUM will never protect any member allegedly accused of any form of sexual harassment and discrimination at the workplace especially in the mining, energy and construction sectors where the NUM organises. The NUM will not allow anyone including its members of violating the rights of women at the workplace. It is the NUM that fought for women to work in the mining industry when it was not fashionable to do so. The NUM never fought for women to be sexually harassed and discriminated at the workplaces by anyone.
For the record, this case was reported to the SAPS and our member spent two nights in prison cells only for the case to be withdrawn due to lack of evidence. Now we have been informed the case has been reinstated again by the SAPS and our member is going to a criminal court. The law must take its course until the judgement is delivered. The principle of innocent until found guilty must apply.
This case was known to the company around August 2018. Our member was suspended in November 2018. The NUM referred a matter of unfair suspension to the CCMA and only got a date for conciliation in Jan 2019. Our member was on suspension all that time. At the CCMA we withdraw our referral on the basis that the company had set down the date for the hearing the following day. In our first meeting, the case was postponed on the basis that the alleged victim needed an observer in the proceedings. When the matter was postponed NUM wrote to the company why our member was still subjected to a suspension. The company after considering our submission lifted the suspension of our member. We had a second sitting where the alleged victim as we were just starting the inquiry indicated that she was too emotional to proceed and a postponement happened again. The third time we sat for the hearing the company indicated that they had new evidence hence we had to postpone again. We are still waiting for the other sitting. NUM is involved in a disciplinary process defending the said member and we believe there will also be an outcome. The due processes of the law must be respected by everyone.
This sensitive issue of sexual harassment must not be used as a smokescreen by people who want to get recognition rights via the back door. The real issue is about the verification of membership at the mine that will determine which union is the majority. NUM is a majority union at the mine. There is a private arbitration that both NUM and Numsa have participated in through a court order and are waiting for an award. The NUM believes that the arbitration award is going to assist the employer on who is the majority union at the mine. There no reason for people to stage a sit-in underground and hold our member’s hostage since Wednesday last week. It is an act of criminality. On Thursday last week, 38 of our members managed to escape from the underground.
There is a need for a high level of awareness of policies to empower and protect women in the mining industry, including policies on sexual harassment. A policy on the protection of victims of sexual harassment and other forms of gender discrimination should be strengthened in the mining industry and publicised among women employees so that when these cases arise, women can speak out without fear.
For more information please contact:
Livhuwani Mammburu: NUM National Spokesperson: 083 809 3257
The National Union of Mineworkers
7 Rissik Street.
Tel: 011 377 2111
Cell: 083 809 3257