Johannesburg - There is a need for stability in the mining sector and in centralised bargaining processes, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Friday.
"That normality must be brought by parties' adherence to the rules of collective bargaining, mutual respect and non-violent means of engagement," spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said in a statement.
He said the union supported President Jacob Zuma's call for stability and appealed to all parties to abide by the peace accord signed earlier in the year.
At a briefing in Pretoria about the economy and developments in the mining sector on Thursday, Zuma told reporters South Africa needed a stable mining industry to increase economic growth.
"Our country needs a stable and growing mining industry. Mining has been a key feature of this country's economy for more than 130 years," Zuma said at the Union Buildings.
Mining accounted for 6% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) and generated 60% of South Africa's export revenue, he said.
Zuma said the mining sector had been negatively affected by the depressed global economic growth, especially in Europe.
"The global recession has led to substantial declines in commodity prices and in the demand for our minerals abroad. And when our mining sector is in difficulties, this affects the wider economy, leading to industrial slowdown."
Zuma said 2012 was a difficult year for the mining sector, with the deaths of 44 people during a strike in Marikana, North West, in August. However, government had acted to address labour relations in the mining sector.
Play by the rules
Following Zuma's speech the NUM called on all parties, including mining companies, to play by the rules.
NUM general secretary Frans Baleni said: "As a union we are determined to play by the very same rules we want others to play by."
However, the union said this did not mean that it should not demand what was fair for its members.
Seshoka said: "It also shouldn't be interpreted to mean that strike action would cease to be the last resort as we normally do when parties are unable to agree."
On Friday the ANC said reports linking Zuma's address to the weakening of the rand were "unfounded".
"Suggestions in the media linking the president's speech to the news of the weakening rand are scientifically unfounded," the office of ANC Chief Whip Moloto Mothapo said in a statement.
"The president's bold intervention to address economic challenges cannot be the reason for the decline of the rand."
On Thursday, the rand fell to around R10/$ a few hours after Zuma tried to assure the nation and investors that government was dealing with the instability in the mining sector. This was its lowest level in four years.
Mothapo's office said the mining industry welcomed Zuma's call to work together with government and labour. It welcomed Zuma's "frank reflections" on the state of the South African economy, and said the country had done well on the economic front since the first democratic elections in 1994.
The Democratic Alliance said Zuma's address was a missed opportunity.
DA MP Lindiwe Mazibuko said Zuma should have spoken decisively about the problems facing the economy.
"But instead of a plan of action on how to address our economic growth collapse to just 0.9 percent in the first quarter, we received only more of the vague reassurances which have characterised his term in office," said Mazibuko.
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