The National Executive Committee of the National Union of Mineworkers met on 22 October 2020 and, amongst others, deliberated on the following;
1. RECOGNITION OF JAMES MOTLATSI AND ELIJAH BARAYI
The NEC noted that the University of South Africa will be conferring honorary doctorates to comrade James Motlatsi and posthumously to comrade Elijah Barayi. These two leaders are respectively the founding President and founding Deputy President of the National Union of Mineworkers. The university is doing this in recognition of the immense contribution these giant trade unionists made not only in the struggle of workers but also in the politics of this country. Under their guidance, the National Union of Mineworkers grew to be the biggest in Africa at a time when the repressive apartheid regime was in a full fight in suppressing the rights of black workers. All the General Secretaries who served with them at the NUM later became either Presidents of the ANC and or the country or Secretaries-General of the ANC. The NUM NEC members who served with these two giants and the current NUM NEC members will grace the occasion with their presence at the Pretoria campus of UNISA on November 6, 2020.
2. THE SCOURGE OF CORRUPTION
The NEC raised deep concern about the alarming rate of corruption that is plaguing our country. Looting of state resources which were supposed to be utilized to alleviate the plight of the poor masses is continuing and running like wildfire. During the early stages of the COVID-19 lockdown, as a country, we went out to borrow R500 billion rand so that we can be in a position to take care of the poor. Up to now, we are still waiting to hear from the holier than thou Treasury leader by the Honourable Mr Tito Mboweni as to what happened to the money. How did the workers benefit from that?
We observed that spouses of highly connected people are being awarded millions of rand worth tenders to supply the government with services whilst our poor people are sleeping on the streets. The looting at Eskom continues unabated in the name of unbundling so that the public can get frustrated and demand that this parastatal be “privatized”. The government is failing to tell the people of South Africa as to who the real beneficiaries of this unbundling are. Who are these independent power producers and if they are independent, why do they want to piggy-back on Eskom. This is a government that is stealing from its people to further enrich a few connected people. The spending of R37 million to install a border fence worth R20 000 shows how deep this corruption has entrenched itself in our government. MEC Masuku had to fall for tender irregularity that happened within his department whether he knew or not. Why can’t Patricia de Lille fall?
3. ANC RELATIONS WITH LABOUR MOVEMENT
It is no doubt that the labour movement in South Africa played a pivotal role in ensuring that the ANC became the government of the country. Whilst the ANC was in exile, workers in this country made sure that the apartheid regime was always on its toes. Many workers were detained and murdered in prisons for their support for the ANC. Even today, many unions contribute their financial and human resources to ensure that the ANC remains in power. This is the very ANC that does nothing when the very same union members are faced with unnecessary retrenchments. They would introduce a stimulus package that is only intended to benefit employers who keep on retrenching workers despite them being bailed out using the taxpayers’ money. This is the ANC government that is hell-bent to directly retrench workers in state-owned enterprises. One can count thousands of jobs that have been lost in the past few years at Eskom, Transnet, SAA, DENEL, Alexkor, SABC just to mention a few. This is a government that cannot even honour a request from a trade union to meet and discuss the plight of workers in parastatals. Maybe this is the government that does not care about the workers’ “dirty votes”. As the NUM we once more call upon the ANC to reign in the arrogant Pravin Gordhan to meet with us to discuss issues about Alexkor and Eskom. His arrogance is not helping the relations between workers and the ANC. If Pravin Gordan cannot serve the people, why is he in the ANC government or is the ANC government not for the people anymore? The peoples’ patience is fast running out.
4. COVID-19 PANDEMIC
This is a phenomenon that almost changed life as we know it. In fact, to some extent, it has rendered us anti-social. We cannot shake hands, we cannot hug and we look at each other with suspicion. The disease has taken away thousands of our fellow South Africans and more than a million people globally. However, we must commend our government for how they have dealt with the situation despite the pressure from those who wanted to politicize the death of people or those whose interest is economic greed. It was not nice for our movements and rights to be restricted, but that yielded good results. We are far below what scientists projected in terms of death by September 2020 and the rate of infection has stabilized or declined. This is one area we can say thumbs up to our government. As citizens, we must continue playing our part in curbing the spread of this deadly virus.
5. WAGE NEGOTIATIONS
The NEC appreciates all companies like Sibanye Platinum Kroondal, Msobo Coal, Petra Diamonds and Exxaro Coal ECM after they concluded their wage agreements with the NUM.
The NEC strongly warned those arrogant companies who have not settled their wage agreement that our members will not hesitate to embark on protected strikes. (Exxaro Coal EC, Anglo Coal, Kumba Iron Ore, De Beers, South 32, Glencore, Assmang Manganese and Iron Mine, Kudumane Manganese Mine and Seriti Coal). The NEC has noted the pittance or insulting wage offers from these companies. These wage offers are not even close to what our members are demanding. These companies have been very arrogant in their approach to these wage negotiations to the extent that their offer on the table smacks of insults and arrogance. We will take this pittance or insulting wage offers back to our members for them to make a final decision.
The NEC is extremely angered by the arrogant behaviour of South 32 Coal that has offered our members a 0% wage increase. A company that values its employees will not offer its employees a 0% wage increase. The attitude of South 32 Coal is to provoke our members and treat them as slaves who do not deserve anything. While management of this company arrogantly behaves in this fashion, the workers are determined to fight this humiliation and abuse to the end. There is no stopping them now, they will fight this head-on. This shows the disdainful and arrogant manner in which the company wants to deal with its supposed employees. NUM members will not give up their struggle for a dignified life against capitalist barbarism that is happening at South 32 Coal.
For more information, please contact:
David Sipunzi: NUM General Secretary: 082 883 7293
Livhuwani Mammburu: NUM National Spokesperson: 083 809 3257