The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) met virtually in respect of the protocols of the Covid-19 regulations. The NEC meeting was held from the 25th to 26th February 2021. This is its first meeting in 2021 and had numerous challenges to mull over in charting the way forward for 2021.
It met against the background of several tragedies which includes the death of its staff members including its General Secretary, may their souls rest in peace. In this regard several critical points were discussed and resolved upon as tabulated below:
2. CLOSING THE LEADERSHIP VACUUM
2.1 Endorsement of the Deputy General Secretary
As stated above the NUM lost its General Secretary David Sipunzi in December 2020. In consolidating leadership and operations of the union the NEC has resolved to formally endorse the current Deputy General Secretary William Makgabo Mabapa as the Acting General Secretary until the next elective Congress in 2022. Comrade Mabapa has a wealth of experience having worked closely with the late General Secretary. He is the former Regional Secretary of the North East region of NUM in Limpopo for 14 years and he has 21 years as a member of the National Executive Committee of NUM. NUM is confident and proud of itself for having a pool of matured capacitated leaders at times of need. NUM wishes to congratulate the Acting General Secretary with the trust and responsibility bestowed upon him.
3. COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
3.1 Collective Bargaining Conference
The NEC dealt with the challenges facing members of NUM in Mining, Energy, Construction, and Metal industries pertaining to wages and working conditions. As a result resolved on the importance of holding a Collective Bargaining Conference to give an in-depth attention to all these areas in pursuit of better working and living conditions for NUM members .This conference will be held on the 25-26th March 2021 and further details on the modality of the conference and venue will be outlined in the near future.
3.1.1 Mineral Council Gold Wage Negotiations
The NEC has welcomed with enthusiasm the positive indications of increased revenue and operational profits declared by a number of mining companies in the country linked to the Minerals Council of South Africa. We believe this bodes well for workers who are primarily responsible for the positive financial trends experienced by mining entities. It is a good precursor to the wage negotiations preparations with the Minerals Council of South Africa and an inspiration to mineworkers who bore the brunt of Covid-19 and other social ills in 2020.
3.1.2 Eskom Wage Negotiations
The union looks forward to wage negotiations with Eskom this year at the beginning of the second quarter in 2021 and will properly plan for this in its Collective Bargaining Conference.
The Central Bargaining Forum is scheduled to resume on the 20th April 2021 and expected to conclude all business by the 31st of May this year. Within this period NUM expects that all outstanding matters that have dragged on will also be finalised such as:
a) Income disparities –
Income differentials between whites and blacks in Eskom need to be addressed as part of transformation.
b) Housing allowance-
Housing allowance remains a thorn to now that Eskom has changed the allowance into a fringe benefit and this has imposed unforeseen tax implications on workers who rent accommodation from Eskom.
c) Regulating relations-
There is an urgent need to review the existing recognition agreement and organisational rights also encompassing improvement of the conditions of service.
4. State of the Nation Address (SONA)
4.1 Eskom restructuring
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has noted with grave concern President Ramaphosa speech pertaining to ESKOM matters. The President through SONA has demonstrated that unbundling or restructuring of the utility into three entities is marching on i.e.: Generation, Transmission, and Distribution.
The NEC wishes to put it on record that NUM is opposed to the restructuring of Eskom as it will lead to job losses like any rationalisation process. The union will hold the President accountable to any adverse outcomes on our jobs upon further implementation of this process. ESKOM must further engage labour as to how many employees will lose jobs as a result of natural attrition.
The union further remains concerned by the pronouncement during SONA delivery that more IPPs are going to be signed off as this sustains a battle front between the state and the workers. It is the view of the union that the IPPs are parasites that are sucking Eskom to death. We need solutions that are tailored to each problem. We also believe electricity should not be a commodity.
4.2 Corruption and state capture
The National Union of Mineworkers remains fully behind efforts by the ANC, government, Cabinet and society in the fight against corruption and state capture. NUM believes that the fight against corruption will benefit the poor and the working class. The ANC should intensify its unapologetic stunts for the fight against corruption, as it is their Conference Resolution whereby branches were part of the adoption of the Resolution.
4.3 Social grants
We support the President `s efforts in sustaining unemployment grants to mitigate the impact of poverty on unemployed individuals. NUM understands that is not the permanent solution to the high unemployment rate in this country but it is a good initiative to mitigate poverty.
5. NATIONAL ECONOMY
5.1 Infrastructure investment
The NEC has noted the commitment of R791.2 billion infrastructure investment drive by the government. In this infrastructure expansion economic drive we know that rights of workers often become a casualty. Therefore call on the Department of Labour and employment together with the Department of Public Works to activate their maximum vigilance in ensuring that the expansive infrastructure initiative creates permanent jobs. Additionally, that the rights of workers are not violated and that they should work under improved working conditions.
We further call upon public works ministers to engage with registered trade unions as interested and affected parties on the evaluation and monitoring plan, to avoid misleading information on status of project, location and recruitment of Labour in other areas because of coder systems. Information of each project plan is communicated in detail to avoid instalment information which leads to stop and go working methods, as a result of what may be viewed as conflicting information.
We note with concern that, nothing is said or mentioned with regard to all the mines put under care and maintenance in the country, which resulted in thousands of job being shared, we strongly believe that if such mines are considered to revisited for a good course, and proper planning be made to re-open the mines because a number of jobs may be created to accommodate majority of the unemployed youth, woman and people with disabilities. Across the length and breadth of our provinces we have more than two mines put under care and maintenance, covering all minerals. As a trade union, we believe that if all those closed mines can be open, it will be a real game changer
The union further calls upon the Competition Commission to be at its all-out scrutiny to guard against corruption. We call on the Commission to exercise harsh penalties on any private entity that will be involved in price collusion as it happened in the build up towards the massive infrastructure build in preparation towards the 2010 FIFA World Soccer Tournament .
5.2 Budget speech
The NEC interrogated the Budget speech as delivered by the Minister of Finance Honourable Tito Mboweni. In its informed view the NEC welcomed the increase to social grants under these difficult national and global circumstances.
The NEC is however concerned with the lack of effort by the Treasury to support and facilitate economic development. Facilitating economic development by the Treasury will go a long way in jerking up efforts of job creation and reduce the current unemployment rate of 32% narrow definition.
We also call on the government through the Treasury to lend more special financial support to local economies i.e. rural and township economies where the majority of the poor marginalised South Africans hassle for survival.
The NEC further noted the Minister `s move to reduce corporate income tax. The union is concerned that further reductions of corporate taxes do not guarantee that the private sector would reciprocate by making further productive investment. But they prefer to earn the benefits of reduced taxes while digging deep escalating their investment strike.
The NEC welcomes the progressive pronouncements made by the Minister of Finance in his budget speech and believes that the tax relief will go a long way towards removing the tax grip stifling the livelihood of lower and middle-income families.
5.3 National Debt outlook
The NEC wishes to express worry on the debt outlook of South Africa as it believes this will hamper any means for unleashing a successful post pandemic economic recovery trajectory. It is a worrying projection that South Africa`s gross loan debt will surge from R3.95 trillion in the present financial year to R5.2 trillion in 2023/24, this may imply that the South African government is technically insolvent.
5.4 Retirement Fund Reform
The NEC reinstated its position that the union supports the move in terms of T/Day in which as from the 1st of March 2021 members of pension funds will be able to transfer their funds credits to the provident funds without any tax implications. This means that when these workers go on retirement they will only have to take 1/3rd lump-sum and the two thirds will have to be used to buy a retirement annuity.
5.5 Land Expropriation
The NEC of NUM fully supports the Land Expropriation and strongly believes that this process is extremely long overdue and further waste of time is malicious and cheating South Africans their rights to get what belongs to them.
6. POLITICS AND DEMOCRACY
6.1 Attacks on democratic traditions
The NEC has noted that democracy in South Africa is day by day facing new threats with the key of public institutions under attack. The NEC calls on all democracy loving South Africans to stand up and defend gains made so far including democracy itself. Accountability is one key principle amongst others towards building a thriving democracy.
For this reason as the workers we should be worried when institutions such as the Judiciary, the National Prosecution Authority, Special Investigating Unit and generally the rule of law are subjected to forged attacks by conspiracy industrialists. An attack on these institutions is an attack on our constitution and we should not stand by for the alternative is lawlessness and populist dictatorship.
6.2 Zondo Commission
As part of defending democracy, the rule of law and accountability the NEC reinstates its full support to the Zondo Commission and all its processes. The union leadership also calls upon all South Africans invited by the commission to cooperate with it as part of their contribution towards entrenching accountability.
Furthermore, the leadership calls on the Zondo Commission to conclude its work as soon as possible without any further delay and believe that it has both the capacity and resources to do .An attack on the commission is an attack on the people of South Africa. Most importantly no one is above the law and no amount of intimidation must temper with the commission`s operations.
6.3 ANC indecision trend
The NEC has noted with concern that the ANC is unable to make well-timed decisions due to its internal factional dynamics. This is demonstrated by its delay and inconsistency in applying the step aside policy to deal with members or leaders who have been arrested and prosecuted.
We call on the ANC to act decisively, consistently, and firmly without looking at the position and faces of those found wanting pertaining to the step-aside policy. Inconsistency and lack of decision making has the potential to demobilise the ANC while increasing tensions unnecessarily.
6.4 Corporate permits
The NUM has signed Section 197 to transfer employees from RMS to new two contractors. The NUM NEC welcomes the decision taken by Home Affairs to Review and Appeal on the withdrawal of Corporate Visas/Permits that the Home Affairs department issued to the two mining contractors Belong Mining Services and Phenyo Africa Mining Services at Royal Bafokeng Platinum. This decision if it was not reversed could have adversely affected more than 1000 NUM members who have worked for the two affected contractors i.e. Boleng Mining Solutions and Phenyo Africa Mining Solutions for more than 15 years. We call upon the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee to call an urgent meeting with NUM to discuss this matter.
7. HEALTH AND SAFETY
7.1 Covid-19 pandemic
The NEC joins all families and citizens across the country and the world to mourn all those who died due to Covid-19 and in this regard extends its condolences. Close to 50 000 people in South Africa have fallen victim and died due to this global pandemic. As the NEC we declare our support and appreciation to all those in the risky front lines of the battle against the pandemic.
7.2 Government initiatives
Furthermore, the NEC welcomes the positive efforts galvanised by the government to wage a successful war against Covid-19. Therefore calls on all South Africans to rally behind government initiatives to protect all citizens through a vaccine roll-out. As NUM we welcome the budget allocation of R10 billion for the purchase and distribution of vaccines in the period stipulated by the Minister of Finance.
Unity of all South Africans in their diversity is critical in making government efforts a success, sustaining a protected nation, and delivering economic recovery. Thus we support the budget allocation of R12 billion by the Treasury in funding the vaccine roll-out for the medium term phase.
7.3 Employer Interventions
The NEC salutes a progressive decision taken by Sibanye-Stillwater of buying COVID-19 vaccines for its 80 000 mine workforce. The company has indicated its willingness to fund jabs for mining communities and its workers’ dependents. Against this background the NEC invites all employers in mining, energy, construction and metal industries to follow this patriotic route and buy COVID-19 vaccines for their employees. All employers have the duty to care for their employees.
For more information, please contact:
William Mabapa, NUM Deputy General Secretary, 083 880 4439
Livhuwani Mammburu, NUM National Spokesperson, 083 809 3257
The National Union of Mineworkers
7 Rissik Street.
Tel: 011 377 2111
Cell: 083 809 3257