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'NUM not responsible for violence'

Shabangu said NUM should never stoop to the level of rival unions who use intimidation to increase membership.

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu. Picture: Regan Thaw/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said on Friday the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) cannot be held responsible for violent unrest in the mining sector.

Shabangu addressed delegates at the NUM's central executive committee conference in Centurion and praised the union for remaining disciplined during recent strikes.

Shabangu said NUM should never stoop down to the level of rival unions who are using intimidation to increase their membership.

"It cannot be correct that violence and even murder is used to persuade workers to join trade unions."

She added that NUM's history absolves it from responsibility for the violence.

"NUM belongs to the disciplined of the left therefor it cannot be held responsible for the violent siege in the mining industry."

Shabangu was joined by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in their meeting with the Chamber of Mines and CEO's from leaders in the gold and platinum sector.

The two ministers apparently discussed the latest wage demands by NUM who have asked that a minimum of R7,000 be paid to workers in the gold and coal sectors.

Potential strikes at Anglo Platinum and Lonmin would also feature prominently as well as rivalry between Association of Mineworkers Construction Union (Amcu) and NUM that left several senior union leaders dead.

But it was not clear if the outcome of the meeting will be made public.'

NUM AND AMCU RIVALRY

The only reason NUM is losing members in the Rustenburg area is because workers are being intimidated into joining rival union Amcu, NUM officials said on Wednesday.

There are tensions between the two unions at Lonmin's Marikana Mine over majority recognition and even though an unprotected strike was called off last week the issue has not yet been resolved.

NUM used to be the majority union at Lonmin and had an agreement in place to only leave their office space in July.

Amcu is pushing for the union to leave before then.

It wants majority recognition now that it represents about 70 percent of the employees.

NUM's France Baleni said members are not leaving because of better prospects at Amcu.

Baleni said they are willing to work with Amcu to prevent job losses in the mining industry, but Amcu is continuing its fight for majority recognition, which some analysts said could spark more violence in the future.

Violence continued to rock the volatile area as 10 miners were rushed to hospital in the North West province after being shot with rubber bullets outside the Lanxess Chrome Mine in Rustenburg on Wednesday.

Workers embarked on an unprotected strike last week demanding performance bonuses.

On Tuesday morning, about 500 miners gathered outside the main gate, where clashes broke out with security guards.

The police's Thulani Ngubane said several rounds of rubber bullets were fired.

"About 10 protesters were injured and then taken to the mine hospital. The situation is currently under control."

The North West mining belt saw violent strikes and the industry being brought to a standstill last year after 34 miners were killed during clashes with police at Marikana.

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