AMCU gaining in union battle for platinum workers

From News24

Rustenburg – The once powerful National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is still battling to recover from its dramatic drop in membership on the platinum belt in North West where the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) gained thousands of followers during the infamous Marikana strike.

Mineworkers queue for check-ins near Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine before returning to work, June 25, 2014. REUTERS/Skyler Reid

At 30 September 2012 NUM boasted some 14 560 members at the Lonmin platinum mine in Rustenburg out of a workforce of 28 000 in 2012. But by February this year, that number stood at only 2 240.

In September 2012 Amcu represented 21% or 5 880 works at Lonmin – a number that has changed dramatically by February this year following the August 2012 wildcat strike which culminated in the deaths of 44 people and which made world headlines.

“Amcu represents 74% of total own employee workforce and 85% of Cat 4-9 occupational category,” said Lonmin spokesperson Sue Vey.

She said the United Association of South Africa (Uasa) trade union represented three percent, Solidarity four percent and the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu) one percent. Ten percent of the workers do not belong to any union.

Amcu has also made inroads at Aquarius Kroondal mine outside Rustenburg, one of the mines where NUM was still the dominant union in 2012.

Charmane Russell for Aquarius said any union with more than 15% of employees within a bargaining category had the right to organise on the mine. Unions with 35% or greater representation had the right to bargain and to have offices at the mine.

She said at the end of February the NUM represented more than 35% of employees.

“Should a union drop below the level of 35% representation in a bargaining unit, that union will be advised and given a period of three months during which it has the opportunity to increase this representation.” – News24

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