THE Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) had threatened to take legal action against Impala Platinum (Implats) should the company not recognise the union and grant it organisational rights at the group’s main Rustenburg operations, Dumisani Nkalitshana, Amcu’s national organiser, said on Friday.
The newcomer mining union claimed that it had 10 000 members at Implats, about a third of the company’s 30 000 staff.
Nkalitshana said Amcu would approach the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) so that it could embark on a protected strike until it received the right.
“We have no choice but go to the CCMA so we can embark on a legal strike. They (Implats bosses) are playing hide and seek with us, and we are really not happy,” he said.
Johan Theron, the human resources head at Implats, said that the company had not yet completed the verification of Amcu’s membership, and the process “will take another couple of weeks”.
“Our response to Amcu will be determined by the relative union representation as determined by the verification process,” Theron said.
He said the company had to give the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) three months to re-establish itself as the majority union once its representation dropped below 50 percent and another month’s legal notice before “we can recognise another union.”
The NUM has been a majority union at Implats under an agreement that it maintain a threshold level of 50 percent plus one. The NUM has reportedly lost thousands of members to Amcu in a battle that has cost several lives.
An Implats employee was shot and critically injured amid clashes between the unions earlier this month, and workers went on strike after police arrested two Amcu members on May 21 in connection with the shooting.
By Thursday last week, the illegal stoppage had ended and employees returned to work.
Thulani Ngubane, the spokesman for the SAPS in the North West, said on Friday that the employees had been released on R5 000 bail each.
He added that the case would be heard on July 2.
However, Nkalitshana said he believed that Implats management wanted to dismiss employees for participating in an illegal strike so that the union would lose membership.
He also criticised police for making selective arrests and said that NUM employees had not been jailed.
Meanwhile, a man was arrested on Friday in Phokeng outside Rustenburg in connection with the attempted murder of a NUM official, North West police said at the weekend.
Ngubane said the man would appear in the Tlhabane Magistrate’s Court today.
He was the third person arrested in connection with the shooting of Laurence Somolekae. Somolekae was shot in the head at the Implats mine on May 17 following an alleged conflict between NUM and Amcu. He was still in hospital at the weekend.
Ngubane said two other people, Kahayaletho Mzimeli and Sibongile Sidadla, who were allegedly members of the Amcu, appeared in the magistrate’s court on Friday.
The latest incidents follow widespread violence earlier this year in which several workers were killed and the Rustenberg mine was shut for six weeks. – Additional reporting by Sapa