Johannesburg - Three platinum companies are manipulating
union membership verification processes to the benefit of Amcu, Cosatu claimed
The central executive committee (CEC) of the Congress of SA
Trade Unions condemned in "the strongest terms possible", management
of Impala Platinum Holdings
[JSE:IMP], Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS] (Amplats) and Lonmin [JSE:LON] , said Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.
However, Lonmin has dismissed Cosatu's claims. "Lonmin believes in freedom of association. There is no intimidation. We cannot decide who joins what union," said spokesperson Sue Vey.
Implats also rejected the allegations. "I don't know where they come from," said company spokesperson Bob Gilmour.
"[They are] totally unfounded and they've got no merit. Simple as that."
Vavi said management of the three platinum companies were
"manipulating the membership verification process and employing the
age-old tactic of divide-and-rule" to the benefit the Association of
Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).
Vavi was briefing reporters in Johannesburg after a Cosatu
CEC meeting. He accused the management of the three companies of hypocrisy.
"[They] have sought to meet all demands of Amcu to
cancel stop order facilities of the [Cosatu-affiliated] National Union of
Workers who insisted on remaining members of the NUM were
threatened with retrenchment.
Vavi said the companies, which are based in Rustenburg, had
resolved that, if they were to guarantee peace in their operations, they had to
give in to any Amcu demands.
He said the companies confirmed after a Cosatu march in
Rustenburg in February that they had been forcing workers to resign from the
NUM and join Amcu.
"They designed forms and forced workers to leave NUM,
saying if they remain with NUM their safety was not guaranteed, and they will
be the first on the line for retrenchment," Vavi said.
Platinum mines in and around Rustenburg have been plagued by
labour unrest since August last year.
Violent protests linked to rivalry between the NUM and Amcu
have claimed the lives of at least 44 people.
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini said it was not opposed to
unions seeking space in the workplace.
"They must follow the law. You do not parade workers
and force them to join a rival union. That is where the problem is,"
"Management apparently believes this is the only way to
stop [the] unprotected strikes that have engulfed the platinum sector. The
actions of management constitute the worst forms of union-bashing."
Dlamini said Cosatu's campaign to defend the NUM and the SA
Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) was beginning to bear fruit.
"Thousands of mineworkers who were misled or pressured
to resign from the union that have fought for their dignity are returning to
the union in droves," he said.
"The membership of Satawu has increased from 160 000 to
193 000 due to the work by the union and the federation."
The figures for the NUM were not available.
Amcu has threatened the presence of the NUM in platinum
mines in Rustenburg and is slowly making inroads in the country's gold mines.
Vavi said there were 193 registered unions in South Africa,
117 of which were not affiliated to any federation.
He said there were 45 general unions, and many unions in
retail, hospitality, cleaning, security, construction, food, fishing, and