Johannesburg - Impala Platinum Holdings [JSE:IMP] is
responsible for the chaotic five-week strike at its Rustenburg operations, the
National Union of Mineworkers (Num) said on Monday.
"Implats is fully responsible for the mess they find
themselves in," Num general secretary Frans Baleni told reporters in
He said the Num's central structures had not been informed
that Implats was going to implement a salary adjustment for miners.
This retention bonus had led to another category of workers
- the rock drill operators - downing tools in an illegal strike over
unhappiness that they had not benefited.
Overall, Implats fired 17 200 workers after they refused to
return to work.
"The local structures (of the Num) were informed by
management, but were told in a sort of casual manner... and no details were
provided," said Baleni.
"And we are also blaming our own structures for not
engaging with us... but it is the norm that this would have been discussed with
us by Implats."
Initially, Implats said the dismissed workers could reapply
for their positions, but would lose any benefits they previously had.
However, on Friday the Num and Implats agreed that workers
could be reinstated with their previous benefits intact. They would not be paid
for the days they did not work.
The labour dispute was marked by violence and intimidation,
with three people killed.
Baleni said the Num did not know who was behind the
"It's difficult to tell who's behind the intimidation,
but we can assure you it's very, very severe."
He called on law enforcement authorities to ensure that
workers were free to exercise their right to return to work.
Workers had until 15:00 on Wednesday to return to Implats or
they would not be rehired.
The company said it would take back only 15 000 workers, so
2 200 would be left jobless.
The union did not agree with this, but said it would
investigate once the miners had returned to work.
"Once things are back and normalised, we will use our
own expertise to prove the claim from Impala... There is supposed to be an
expansion towards end of year which would have increased the number of
workers," Baleni said.