The National Union of Mineworkers convened its National Collective Bargaining Conference on the 25th -26th March 2021 .The conference was convened virtually to comply with the Covid-19 protocols. Thus we have called this press conference to articulate some and not all of the interventions made by the delegates as we move towards wage negotiations .Some of the articulations are here stated below.
2. Wage negotiations 2021 in the Gold, Energy etc.
The conference observed the growing tendency of employers to undermine collective bargaining in order to reverse the gains made by workers through this regulatory framework. Appreciating this reality the delegates agreed that collective bargaining must be defended as it is an anchor of both the freedom of association and the right to organise. Therefore should be defended at every workplace as from the beginning of 2021. This shall be undertaken by workers as part of defending the victories and clawing back the lost ground.
The union has also noted the presentation of positive pronouncements by a number of mining companies and believes that workers should earn their equal share from these windfalls because it is the result of their hard labour. In this regard the union commits not to betray the workers and shall bargain hard to ensure that they gain from these dividends as we know if we don’t fight only executives will gain unashamedly through exorbitant bonuses. Given the good dividend performances by mining companies NUM enters this season of negotiations in high spirit for good settlement.
3. 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-
It was the view of conference that there is an urgent need to review the existing recognition agreement and organisational rights also encompassing improvement of the conditions of service.
4. ESKOM CEO Corruption
The uproar about growing corruption levelled against Eskom CEO Adre de Ruyter can no longer be ignored. Given the poor financial standing of the utility the allegations require maximum attention and intervention.
We call on the SIU to investigate these serious allegations so that South Africans do not rely on Eskom`s own internal investigations in digging out the truth. As part of its efforts to stem the tide of corruption NUM has undertaken a process of opening up a criminal case against the CEO.
The conference raised a concern about the expensive nature of the procurement of IPPs and the impact of this in the national struggle to stabilise Eskom finances.
5. 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.
6. Health and Safety
6.1 Good Friday long weekend
As we hold this conference we are fully aware that many workers in mining, energy, construction, and metal industries will leaving for home for Good Friday long weekend to be with their families and to recharge.
We wish to make a call to all NUM members and workers across the country to consistently comply with covid-19 regulations and to put their masks on constantly to protect themselves and their families.
The Conference noted that Covid-19 has ravaged many South African families and communities black and white, rich and poor, rural and urban.
The Conference noted that a number of employers seek to manipulate the Covid-situation to cut jobs and supress wages .The resolved that such attempts should be resisted and employers will have to show their books to sustain any claim to this effect.
6.2 Vaccination by employers
Conference called on government to allow capable employers to procure vaccination to enable these companies to administer their employees. This will supplement government efforts to reach the reasonable headcount which government alone may not be able to reach .But this should be done under strict oversight.
6.3 Voluntary vaccination
Conference called on companies to respect the choice of individual workers not to subject them to vaccination. In this regard conference resolved to defend any worker who will be a subject of harassment for exercising their individual choice.
7. Economic participation and empowerment of workers
Conference noted that the workers in the four industries mentioned above work hard to earn a wage but when they retire they often do so poorly with the lions share taken by employers. In order to confront this adverse trajectory the conference resolved that the union should ensure that all workers earn the opportunity to participate economically in companies where they are employed as part of escalating employee share-ownership and economic empowerment.
Conference agreed that the economic participation of workers in their companies through ESOPS shall from this year`s wage negotiations form part of Collective Bargaining so that such employee involvement can be taken seriously and entrenched in the corporate culture of companies and strategic planning by employers .
8. Women and retrenchments
Conference noted that women are a majority in society but continue to constitute minorities in workplaces and mining, energy, construction, and metal industries are no exception. Conference also noted the growing magnitude of vulnerability of women in society, homes, workplaces, and communities. In this regard resolved that in order to confront this malady it will aggressively undertake the following in order to alter the patriarchal status quo:
· Fight for the cushioning of women employees from retrenchments as and when they take place
· Ensure that 6 month maternity leave is bargained for in current negotiations and is achieved as a demand .If needs be this should be a strikeable matter.
· That all workplaces should create child-care centres
9. Tertiary education national protest
The conference also echoed it support for the learners who undertook higher education protest to advance calls for financial support and registration of children from working class background who could not afford requisite registration payment.
The conference also indicated that it will be a grave indictment on the ANC government for any of the black children to be finically excluded from studying at universities of their choice as this violates the right to education and the freedom charter `s call that ‘the doors of learning and culture shall be opened’.
In this regard as NUM we call on the Minister of Education and the President of the country to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that all affected and deserving learners are registered with due government financial support. Conference further supported the urgent need for transformation of the curriculum.
We call for the transformation of the structure of the national economy which will serve to advance free decolonised tertiary education linked to job demands and opportunities in our society.
10. Nedlac and NUM participation
• Reduction of working hours – To 40 hour work per week principle without reduction of wages
• BCEA- increase threshold must run concurrently with the minimum wage.
• Compulsory retirement benefit
11. Supporting the unity of the ANC
The National Union of Mineworkers noted the present enation of the ANC NEC outcomes as delivered by its President Cyril Ramaphosa on the 29th March 2021. In this regard NUM wishes to state categorically that it supports every decision that democratic and is intended to strengthen the unity of the ANC in this crucial time of South African history.
However the union looks forward with anticipation as it believes the test is in the ability of the ANC towards sustaining the consistent implementation of its democratic decisions. As a union we believe a strong ANC will be capable of leading society towards socio-economic transformation for the benefit of the working poor and the unemployed army of South Africans.
For more information, please contact:
William Mabapa, NUM Acting General Secretary, 082 880 4439
The National Union of Mineworkers
7 Rissik Street.
Tel: 011 377 2111
Cell: 083 809 3257