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'Lonmin's recognition of Amcu will fuel tensions'

The NUM has slammed Lonmin's decision to grant rival union Amcu majority recognition.

Lonmin.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says Lonmin's decision to formally recognise its rival, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), as the majority union, will further fuel tensions between them.

This comes as the country prepares to commemorate the one year anniversary of the Marikana shooting on 16 August, sparking fears of fresh violence in the area.

Marikana came into the spotlight last year after 34 miners were shot dead and 78 were wounded when police opened fire on striking miners.

On Wednesday, Amcu and Lonmin agreed on the framework for this year's wage talks and the role Amcu will play going forward.

The mining giant confirmed Amcu now represents 60 percent of its employees and announced the start of the process of derecognising the NUM, the United Association of South Africa (Uasa) and Solidarity.

However, Lonmin agreed to allow other minority unions to participate in this year's wage talks.

There has been an intense rivalry between the NUM and Amcu since last year, chiefly over majority recognition at Lonmin's mines.

The NUM's Lesiba Seshoka says the agreement has isolated minority unions at the mine.

"This is a major setback for industrial relations. It actually promotes the idea of Marikana where you have got one union that is operating outside that fuels tensions inside in order to come in."

Seshoka says the company should prepare for troubled labour relations in the future.

"It is totally irresponsible for Lonmin to have conceded to a demand like that. We think this marks the beginning of the end for that company."

Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa says the signing of the agreement is evidence that it is committed to a sustainable industry.

"Concluding such an agreement, doesn't suggest that other minority unions will be left unattended. We as Amcu believe in co-existence and structured processes as we have demonstrated."

MINE FORUM BOYCOTTED

Most unions have boycotted the launch of the police's Mine Crime Combatting Forum after Amcu signed the agreement.

National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa launched the forum in Rustenburg on Wednesday.

It's aimed at dealing with the ongoing violence and sporadic murders in the area.

A representative from Uasa and the NUM pledged their support for the forum.

However, Amcu and Solidarity were not present.

Mathunjwa says he wasn't aware of the launch.

Meanwhile, Phiyega said not all crimes are linked to union rivalry.

"There will be murders and clashes in the area. I'm appealing to not let us rush into linking everything to union rivalry."

RISING VIOLENCE

The platinum belt has been marred by violence in recent months and rivals unions continue to blame each other for the unrest.

In the latest incident, a female shop steward affiliated to the NUM was gunned down outside the Rowland shaft on Monday.

It's still unclear who's responsible for her murder, or how a firearm was brought onto the premises without being detected by security.

At the end of last month, the body of a 49-year-old Lonmin employee was found with four gunshot wounds to his body and neck.

It's alleged the man was on his way to work when he was shot near the Wonderkop Stadium.

At the time, the police's Sabata Mokgwabone said they weren't ruling out the possibility that the killing may be linked to union rivalry.

In another incident last month, a NUM member was assaulted with a knobkerrie at the Nkaneng informal settlement while on his way to a NUM recruitment rally at the Wonderkop Stadium.

In May, an Amcu official who was due to testify at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry was shot dead in Marikana. He was killed while visiting a local tavern.

In April, two NUM shop stewards were also gunned down in the same area.

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