Little progress in mine strike talks

Striking miners at Northam Platinum were holding a meeting yesterday after the latest round of talks between labour and the company to decide whether to continue with a near week-long wildcat stoppage‚ a union spokesman said.

About 5 000 members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) stopped work last Tuesday at the company’s Zondereinde mine‚ its biggest operation‚ demanding the removal of chief executive Paul Dunne over what they said were unfair hiring and firing practices. “Our members are being briefed on the outcome of the talks between our negotiators and the company‚ and will then take a vote‚” NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said.

A union source said earlier there had been little progress in the talks.

Northam shut operations at the mine‚ which produces 65% of its output‚ on Friday due to what it called rising levels of intimidation against non-striking workers and assaults related to the stoppage.

The mine produces about 900 to 1 000 ounces per day. An industry source‚ who declined to be named‚ said that non-striking members of NUM’s arch rival‚ the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu)‚ were removed over the weekend from mine hostels to keep the two sides separated – a move that had helped defuse tensions.

The unfolding drama at Northam seems to be a reversal of recent union roles on the platinum belt‚ where Amcu has poached tens of thousands of NUM members over the past three years in a brutal turf war that has killed scores of miners.

NUM‚ the majority union at Northam‚ has long complained about Amcu embarking on wildcat strikes and then intimidating its members into submission.

Amcu treasurer Jimmy Gama said the union’s members were assaulted and had their hostel rooms vandalised last week because NUM wanted to ward off Amcu at Northam.

“They are afraid to lose members at the mine and they are now resorting to violence.”

– Reuters 

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