We as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) refute the allegations made by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) that two of their branch leaders were attacked and critically injured by AMCU members as stated in Fin24s article Sibanye shares drop after union attack stops operation that was published on 4 October 2016.
In its statement that is referenced in the article, NUM said that: “We can confirm that two NUM branch leaders at Cooke operations were attacked and critically injured while going to work this morning by alleged AMCU members, who blocked all the main gates of Cooke operations and threatening workers not to go to work.”
“We can confirm that two Num branch at Cooke operations were attacked and critically injured while going to work this morning by alleged Amcu members, who blockaded all the main gates of Cooke operations and threatening workers not to go to work,” Num said in a statement.
Since 2013 AMCU has been recruiting at Rand Uranium’s Cooke operations, and during the recruitment processes we came to find that their threshold to obtain organisational was rights within Cooke 1, 2 and 3 was to obtain a membership status of 25 percent.
This year in March we hit the 25 percent threshold needed to obtain organisational rights.
Instead of giving us organisational rights, management refused stating that NUM was disputing that their members had left them in order to join AMCU.
AMCU General Secretary Jeffry Mphahlele confirms that the organisation agreed to a verification process, and this process was done. However the company failed to adhere to the results of the verification in March this year and as a result, AMCU took the company to the CCMA.
“At the CCMA we reached an agreement that we would do another verification process. The terms of reference were drawn and the company agreed with AMCU to set dates with the CCMA for verification.”
Mphahlele adds that it was agreed upon that the verification would be conducted by the CCMA.
“We agreed on the dates that were issued by CCMA and we also agreed that there would be two people from NUM and AMCU to be observers during the process. The function of the observers was to view if the process was going accordingly; and to confirm whether members had joined AMCU or not.”
Another point which was agreed upon within the terms of reference was to inform all the AMCU members of the process with forms and release these forms to confirm verification over a two day process at the Cooke operations.
Mphahlele adds,“About 1400 workers at Cooke 1, 2 and 3 are in possession of their forms. What the company did is that at Cooke 1 they released only a few people, others were turned away, while some were not released to come for verification all together.”
When the two days were up for Cooke 1 then came issues that the numbers were wrong. The same unfair process was conducted at Cooke 2. All of this was due to the interference by NUM.
“NUM was the one that was deciding and saying that those who were not paraded should not be taken. As a result, people were turned at the doorstep by the company. The queues were long with AMCU members wanting to confirm their membership status,” says Mphahlele.
After they were done with Cooke 1 and 2 this is when our members started to say that they were not going to work and that they did not need this verification process anymore.
The shift of the 04th October did not go to work in the morning as well as the previous night. On Monday 3 October the nightshift assembled at the shaft point and they stood there and did not go underground protesting the verification process.
“The company ordered its security guards to tell our members that they were going to shoot them if they did not report to work or disperse. The security guards opened fire shooting AMCU members with rubber bullets and firing stun grenades. Five of our members were wounded as a result. Our members are innocent and were staging a peaceful protest when they were assaulted by the company security,” adds Mphahlele.
On the morning of the 04th October, at around 6am Mphahlele went and addressed AMCU members and he met with the company and nothing was reported that two people had been injured by AMCU members.
“We will not take responsibility for incidents that happen in the township at night. Our responsibility will be around the workplace if there was any illegal strike. NUM is busy interfering with the processes as they are losing members. They were not supposed to stop people or complain while the process is still on. Their duty was to observe like AMCU was also observing,” he says.
He says that the major issue with the verification process was that not everybody was paraded due management and the NUM.
“Our members were not paraded to come and do verification because NUM was conniving with management.”
Mphahlele says that it was alleged that one of the HR managers was blocking our members from going to verify their membership status and turned them away.
“AMCU members were not clashing with NUM members; it was the security guards ordered by management. One of the HR managers was allegedly in the car when the security guards fired against the people,” he says.
Yours in Social Justice.
Download the full statement here.