Marikana sets 'dangerous precedent'

2012-09-20 07:58

Johannesburg - The Marikana wage deal set a dangerous precedent, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Wednesday.

"If those workers forced the hand of the company in that fashion through an unprotected strike, what stops Driefontein in doing the same," Vavi asked delegates at Cosatu's national congress in Midrand, Johannesburg.

Earlier on Wednesday Vavi had to leave the congress to deal with a strike at Gold Fields [JSE:GFI] Driefontein mine in Carletonville where 15 000 workers have been on an illegal strike for the past 10 days.

Leaders of the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) accompanied him.

On his return from the mine Vavi said the mineworkers were demanding a salary of R12 500. This was the same demand made by workers at Lonmin's Platinum mine in Marikana, North West.

On Tuesday Lonmin [JSE:LON] workers accepted a final offer of a 22% increase giving some workers R11 000 a month.

Vavi warned that other workers would think that they too could get substantial increases by going on illegal strikes.

"We are not saying that workers do not deserve their money, but if we are not careful this may mean an end of the central bargaining system in the country.

"Workers will just embark on wildcat strikes and steam ahead and force us to follow them."

He called for the congress to come up with a radical commitment to putting workers interests first.

He said the Driefontein workers were having problems with their Num branch leaders. "(However) they all remain loyal members of Num."

The workers said they would not abandon the union just because of their problems with the branch leaders.

Vavi said the workers were demanding that the leaders be dismissed and would not listen to argument that according to Cosatu's constitution there were processes to follow.

The Num would hold a special national executive committee meeting on Wednesday night to discuss the issue.

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  • pieter.pretorius.106 - 2012-09-20 08:04

    But isn't that exactly what Cosatu wants?

      trevor.myburgh.12 - 2012-09-20 08:51

      But COSATO, that is what you want, you are not a union for the people, you are a union for the cANCer, and the ANC is not for people, they for (another species) themselves.

  • ingrid.oberholzer - 2012-09-20 08:13

    Are the Labour Brokers and Unions worried the workers are getting wise and do not want toshare their hard earned money,they will loose their cut. Will the top top Management loose some of their exhoribant bonuses, benefits and salaries?????? only time will tell.

      gwilym.howes - 2012-09-20 10:04

      Ingrid, I don't know how much you know about business, and mining in particular, but you should know that without these top people that supposedly earn 'exhorbitant bonuses, benefits and salaries', there simply would BE NO mine. Someone has to find the deposit, someone has to determine whether it is feasible, someone else has to plan and design the mine: many mines fail altogether because of an uneconomic or inappropriate design. Then some people need to sell the idea and get investors. By the way, those investors are gambling their money. Not all investors actually make money - some mines lose money. Only then, along come the workers. And yes, they do work hard. But without those top people, there would BE NO mine, and thefore no jobs. Do they not deserve to be paid a lot?

      gwilym.howes - 2012-09-20 10:08

      Would a more positive response not be to aspire to BECOME one of those top people? Would that not be a better response that moaning about how much they earn. THAT is called ambition! If everyone reacted like this, sure, not everyone could get to the top, but imagine what a productive, positive workforce we would have?

  • frans.visserdsb - 2012-09-20 08:28

    Fair comment from Vavi - it is a major concern. We have a very complicated and onerous labour relations act, but it does offer protection to the employers as well when it comes to industrial action. Lonmin has set a very dangerous precedent which could throw the entire labour market into disarray.

  • moagima - 2012-09-20 12:56

    The old saying \if you want something done you must do it yourself\ has found new meaning.why must the workers trust the unions have their best interests?the workers successfully negotiated for what was due to them and they got a lumpsum,while when unions bargain for them they get close to nothing.\r\nAnd what does Vavi do for a living?does he conspire with the employers for the sake of his own pockets?Networking maybe like the predecessors before him that now own the labour brokering companies and have shares from the mines?

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