NUM affiliated workers locked out at Anglo Platinum’s Modikwa Mine

In a letter sent to workers on Friday, which Eyewitness News has seen, the company demands that the hundreds of workers who took part in an unprotected strike be excluded from the workplace.

FILE: Modikwa Mine workers. Picture: Modikwa Platinum Mine/Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - Anglo Platinum’s Limpopo-based Modikwa Mine has enforced a lockout of hundreds of workers affiliated to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

In a letter sent to workers on Friday, which Eyewitness News has seen, the company demands that the hundreds of workers who took part in an unprotected strike be excluded from the workplace.

Although rarely instituted, lockouts are a legal form of industrial action that may be exercised by the employer to compel workers to accept their demands.

Eyewitness News understands that following the lockout, leaders of the NUM in the Burgersfort region - where Modikwa is based - have had marathon meetings with mine management to find a resolution.

Dozens of workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said although the demands that led them to downing tools even though they had no permissions to do so were valid, they were concerned about losing their income for the period of the action.

The no work-no pay rule principle applies during the lockout.

Among their demands is that human resource officials at Modikwa be dismissed, that the company returns to them 14 sick leave days, which were used for isolation and quarantine including annual leave days that were forfeited during the lockdown.

Another demand is that the mine should pay them a once-off lumpsum of R16,100.

This is not the first time NUM members have been locked out; in 2018, another company took the drastic but legal action following protracted labour unrest.

LOCKOUT IN INTEREST OF EMPLOYEE SAFETY

Anglo Platinum has defended its decision to lock out hundreds of its employees affiliated to the NUM at its Modikwa operations.

The company said it took the decision in the interest of the safety of its employees and to safeguard their jobs.

Anglo-American Platinum said the employees who went on a second strike in the space of a month last Friday breached a pre-existing agreement with the NUM that was reached through CCMA mediation after a strike in November.

At the time, the mine also secured a court order against unlawful strikes, which by virtue of engaging in the recent action the workers are in contravention of.

Anglo Platinum’s spokesperson Jana Marais explained: “A large group of employees who are members of the NUM embarked on an unprotected strike on 4 December 2020 in breach of an agreement and a Labour Court order.”

The producer also said there was no legal basis for the workers’ demand to be paid a lump sum of R16,100.

Modikwa said it remained open to discussing the conditions under which the employees would be allowed back to work.

However, until then workers are losing out on their pay with each passing day.

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