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NUM union to decide whether to return to work at Northam

Jun 08 2016 09:03

Johannesburg - Members of National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) will decide on Wednesday if they will return to work at Northam Platinum's Zondereinde mine, which was shut on Monday after violent clashes between NUM and a rival union.

Northam made the initial decision to close operations at the mine but on Tuesday asked the workers to return, saying calm had been restored.

But NUM, the majority union at the mine, and arch rival the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have both said their members will not go back until they feel it is safe to do so.

NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said the union's members would hold a mass meeting at midday to decide if they would go back underground.

"It is up to the members to decide," he said.

Amcu officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

A Northam spokesperson confirmed the mine remained closed for a third day.

Monday's flare-up was sparked by the murder of an NUM member and Northam employee on Sunday. Another miner, whom Amcu said was affiliated to it, was fatally stabbed in Monday's scuffle.

NUM says that Sunday's killing brings to six the number of its members who have been murdered, including five last year.

The clashes have heightened concern over a potential repeat of periodic outbreaks of union violence that have resulted in deaths and operational stoppages across the sector.

The Zondereinde mine produces about 300 000 ounces of platinum a year, according to Northam's website, and accounts for about 70% of the mid-tier producer's revenue.

The management of Northam Platinum said on Wednesday that "talks continue with all parties to resolve the situation at the Zondereinde mine and return employees to work".

"A mass meeting to be attended by the NUM, management and the SAPS has been scheduled to be held on the mine this morning," the company said in a statement.

"Operations have been interrupted at the mine for two days since the fatal shooting of an employee on Sunday 5 June in Northam town approximately 20 km from the mine."

- Additional reporting by Fin24.

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amcu  |  northam platinum  |  num  |  mining  |  labour disputes
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