NUM set to rock construction sector

The NUM plans to issue its intention to call a strike in the construction sector.

FILE: National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) General Secretary Frans Baleni. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Eyewitness News has learnt the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) plans to issue its intention to call a strike in the construction sector today.

Talks between the NUM and construction companies have deadlocked after the union asked for a 15 percent wage hike and employers offered nine percent.

The union's General Secretary Frans Baleni said they've been part of fruitless talks for the past three months and the strike will now kick off on Monday.

He said the strike will be preceded by a march this weekend.

"We are likely to issue a notice so the strike can commence next week Monday. We will be marching in the streets of Johannesburg this coming Saturday for the three sectors which are energy, construction and mining. We will also be submitting memoranda."

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 NUM members at Village Main Reef's Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mine in Carletonville plan to march to the company's headquarters to demand that the looming retrenchment of 1,800 employees be cancelled.

The NUM has claimed the mine is currently under judicial management and is in the process of being liquidated.

In 2011, Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mine dismissed 1,000 NUM members.

The union has now claimed the rest of its membership will soon follow.

The NUM's Lesiba Seshoka said: "Village Main Reef is closing down and liquidating the mine and going away. It's doing the same at Limpopo's Consolidated Murchison Mine. Clearly there's no down-scaling. It's just a matter of shutting down the operations."

The NUM has also threatened mass strike action at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) mines after it announced earlier this week that it planned to cut more jobs than it had initially agreed to.

After months of discussions with government and unions, Amplats announced earlier this week that it aims to cut about 7,000 jobs at its South African operations. It had initially planned to shed 6,000 jobs but increased this figure in recent weeks.

Seshoka said if an agreement was not reached, workers would embark on a strike.

"The national office bearers of the union will look into this and we will announce the way forward. Clearly we will have to take this matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), to the court and then go on strike if need be."

Amplats said the ultimate number of retrenchments would however depend on voluntary severance packages, early retirement and redeployments.

However, the NUM said they agreed that only 3,000 jobs would be affected through voluntary severance packages.

"We'll look into the issue because they didn't raise it with us that 7,000 jobs will be cut. We'll also look at the statements being issued about workers being forced out because the agreement doesn't have that option."