NUM set to lose primacy at Implats to rival
THE National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has as good as lost its majority at Impala Platinum, following confirmation by company management that it has verified that more than 8000 employees had left to join the rival Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).
This will be the biggest set-back the NUM has experienced in its 30-year history and the most significant gain for Amcu, previously a little-known player.
Impala management also has "a second batch" of applications it has yet to verify, and Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said it had more completed applications, which it would soon hand over.
Implats executive director Paul Dunne said in an interview on Monday that management, which had engaged an independent agency to verify the membership applications, had "verified the first lot of people".
"We gave notice to the NUM in the middle of May that in excess of 8000 employees have resigned. We think there will be more."
Mr Dunne said that prior to the arrival of Amcu on the mine in March, the NUM had "70% of the mining workforce" of 23000. This would put NUM's original membership at 16100. Now, with verification still under way, NUM membership had been halved.
The NUM has also fallen below the 50%-plus-one threshold of the total workforce of 30000, which since 2007 has enabled the union to enjoy exclusive organisational rights at the mine.
Up until now, the NUM has refused to recognise the verification process, insisting that workers had been intimidated into joining Amcu.
Proof of this, said NUM regional secretary Sidwell Dokolwana, was that the employees had not resigned from the NUM.
Mr Dunne said in response that all employees who had indicated their willingness to join Amcu were asked by the mine time office to complete resignation forms from the NUM.
The verification process involved reconciling the two processes. "When we have completed the process we can present the facts to both unions and see what it means for the recognition agreement. We may become a multi-union workplace," he said.
In terms of the Labour Relations Act, management is required to give the NUM a month's notice of its intention to halt stop orders for union fees. At the month-end, stop orders for the verified resignations will be terminated. Mr Dunne said new stop orders for Amcu could be processed only after recognition.
Amcu has meanwhile declared a dispute with Implats over its demand for recognition.
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