The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) painted the streets of South Africa green on 20 March, as they embarked on a nationwide peaceful protest against socio-economic ills. Members marched in their thousands to hand over a memorandum of demands to the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) in Pretoria, Welkom, Polokwane and Durban. As stipulated in the memorandum, “These nationwide marches are a result of the failure of the DMR to meaningfully engage with AMCU at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC).  This failure led to a deadlock and subsequently NEDLAC issued a certificate of non-resolution to AMCU, to embark on protected industrial action under the auspices of section 77 of the Labour Relations Act”.

 

AMCU’s Demands

Calling for the much-needed transformation in the mining industry which has failed to materialise even in a democratic South Africa, the Union put forth 15 demands that will help loosen the yolk around workers’ necks.

Highlighted in the list was the demand for the Mining Charter to be legislated. “This would mean that it is no longer a code of good practice under the BBBEE Act, but an act of parliament within the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) dispensation. This will transform the sector and give greater ownership rights to workers who must be consulted in board decisions.”

AMCU also called for the championing of the Mining Beneficiation Strategy within the prism of the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) regime. “The DMR needs to include within the Mining Charter dispensation as requirement for all Multi-National Corporations to bring beneficiation technology to the country and transfer their foreign operations to South Africa if they want to continue mining.” In addition, it’s demanding a quota system which will regulate the exports of raw materials to facilitate industrialisation and beneficiation. “This will force companies to limit their exports and invest in local manufacturing initiatives.”

With the fourth industrial revolution gaining traction, AMCU foresees more job losses. To counter this, the Union demands an urgent upscaling of skills transfer and reskilling initiatives as part of a skills development revolution.  In relation to this, the DMR should provide “a social security net for workers affected by retrenchments due to modernisation and mechanisation”.

The list also includes the call to perform independent audits of future forums, and for licences of all mines on care and maintenance to be revoked and given to workers, communities as well as reputable black entrepreneurs.

Enough is enough

With some 70 000 jobs lost in the South African mining industry between 2012 and now, the time has come for radical transformation. AMCU has given the DMR seven days to respond to its demands.