Kumba: Striking miners won't leave

2012-10-12 18:43

Johannesburg - Talks aimed at getting striking workers to leave Kumba Iron Ore's Sishen mine, in the Northern Cape, were unsuccessful, the company said on Friday.

"As a result, they will now be notified to attend disciplinary hearings within 48-hours, to show cause why they should not be dismissed and criminal charges will now be laid against them," spokesperson Gert Schoeman said.

"A court order declaring the strike as unprotected and unlawful was served on the strikers last week."

Operations at the mine were suspended earlier this month due to the wildcat strike.

About 300 miners, on the night-shift, stopped working and seized a fleet of heavy mining equipment worth R3.3bn, said Schoeman.

The workers were demanding a monthly salary increase of R15 000 for all Kumba employees, over and above what they already earned.

"On several occasions [they have] threatened to destroy the equipment if their demands are not met," he said.

"To date, only limited damage had been caused. The group has taken up position on top of one of the mine dumps adjacent to Sesheng township in Kathu."

On Thursday, the mine said it would not negotiate on wages, only on safety.

The mine concluded a wage settlement with its recognised unions just two months ago, said Schoeman.

Norman Mbazima, Kumba's chief executive, said every effort had been made in the last 10 days to get the striking workers to leave the mine and the unsafe and unhygienic conditions they were in.

"We have a two-year wage agreement in place that was concluded two months ago with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Solidarity and we see no reason for further negotiations on wages outside the collective bargaining structures," he said.

The agreement made provision for a total-cost-to-company increase of between 9% and 12%.

Mbazima said about 95% of the illegal strikers were NUM members, but said they did not want to be represented by the union.

The NUM and the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) in the Northern Cape complained on Thursday that they had been left out of talks to resolve the strike.

However, union representatives met Kumba management on Tuesday in an attempt to resolve the strike.

Schoeman said: "Regrettably, this illegal action by a few is impacting all employees as their remuneration and benefits are linked to the company's performance.

"Each passing day 120 000 tons in lost production is incurred, which will mean that permanent employees' envisioned dividends next year and the next cash payout in 2016 may be significantly less."

  • mo.haarhoff - 2012-10-12 18:55

    What a shame that after so many mines have been manipulated into increasing salaries, it has now been found the actual cause of all this is credit. The National Credit Regulator has done nothing in 18 years to educate the population as to how dangerous taking too much credit is and nothing to regulate the companies offering it. Glad you are holding out...treat the disease, not the symptom.

      melanie.declercq.16 - 2012-10-12 19:50

      The joke is that one of the biggest players is Ubank, a bank with 500.000 customers, 60% of whom work in the mining industry. And guess what? Ubank just happens to be owned by the National Union of Mineworkers and the Chamber of Mines. So most likely the NMU is responsible for the mess to begin with! - 2012-10-14 02:29

      There is another 3rd factor & agenda behind the strikes.... A few want to nationalize profitable mines to line their own pockets. (BTW...Is Russia sharing the wealth with the people?? Hell no, that is why you see all the protest in Russia. It does not even happen in Kuwait and Saudi). It is sad what happens in Kumba, as they actually share the profits with not only the shareholders, but the employees too. Interesting you mention UBank......explain a bit more Melanie pls? Don't expect the government to do anything, they are clueless, useless and common sense is not very common in the ANC. These Strikes come at a very bad time, considering the world financial down turn.

  • chris.buchner.12 - 2012-10-12 21:38

    Its funny how you don't see the unions or hear them during these violent strikes but 50 bucks says they will be the first behind their \comrades\ when they get their increases... Pathetic ... If they won't leave call the police they know what to do ...

  • osmaseko - 2012-10-13 12:37

    NUM is the problem, all these miners should just jump ship and join another union...NUM has failed on all levels. - 2012-10-14 02:32

      Fail how?

  • arthur.salvado - 2012-10-14 08:21

    Strikers are now being stupid and unreasonable . There are no winners in this dispute but there are bigger losers . Work it out. Go back to work guys.

  • pieter.pretorius.106 - 2012-10-14 15:11

    What is the problem? Arrest them and remove them from the property. Why does people who are on strike have more right than people who are not on strike. Why if a striker invades property nothing is done but if a normal person invades property he can be arrested. As soon as a person becomes a striker everybody wants to treat him with gloves. If a person becomes a striker he should be treated like a criminal.

  • chris.vandermerwe.560 - 2012-10-14 18:28

    Lower taxes by 30 % and All will be happy, your fight is against high and unreasonable taxes and the hidden taxes which are depriving people of their honest earnings, toll gates, medical and legal costs, petrol, electricy, property, Co 2 taxes, school and education fees, plastic bags, SABC, SAA, inflated food prices (ever notice them lowering prices when the fuel is at a lower cost?) all in order to feed the creed of the few.

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