When Glencore took over the Xstrata and Optimum operations in South Africa, the company committed to not retrench workers. IndustriALL affiliate the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in South Africa is outraged that Glencore now has announced the closure of the Optimum colliery in Mpumalanga.
"We are being severely provoked and undermined by Glencore’s behaviour in South Africa," says NUM National Education Secretary Ecliff Tantsi.
“Glencore claims to respect human rights, community culture, collective bargaining and the right of employees to freely choose their union, but its practice is far from its rhetoric.”
On 21 February, 2,000 NUM members at the Optimum colliery in the Mpumalanga Province organized a peaceful march to manifest their frustration and anger at Glencore’s CEO, EXCO and Board of Directors in South Africa and abroad.
The NUM has noted with grave concern Glencore’s tendency to buy companies with the aim of closing them and keeping the mining license.
"Glencore is maximizing profit using vulnerable contractor’s employees. This behaviour is in direct contradiction to the company’s commitment in October 2012; when the merger was approved they promised there would be no retrenchments of any of the 100 lower level employees," says Tantsi.
A new amendment bill in employment equity clearly stipulates that employees should be paid equal salary for the same job. According to the NUM, closing the Optimum Colliery is clear move by Glencore to avoid this bill.
"Glencore is not willing to be subjected to the rule of law in our country."
The NUM has given Glencore seven days to respond to its demands:
- The reversal of Glencore to close down Optimum coal whereby 1067 workers are affected. This includes the intention to close down Koornfontein and South stock before the end of July 2015
- All contractors doing business with Optimum coal should stop with immediate effect
- Glencore must adhere to terms and conditions of the Competition Commissioner
- Glencore must adhere to their Social Labour Plans (SLP)
- Glencore must sell its mining license to potential and willing buyers
- Glencore must go back to where they belong, in Switzerland. We don’t need Glencore in our country. It is quite clear that Glencore is an imperialist company which seeks to maximize profit at the expense of our members
Glen Mpufane IndustriALL Director of Mining says that global solidarity is key to showing Glencore how to treat its workers:
Glencore is behaving true to its status as a commodity trader rather than a mining company. They are not in mining for the long haul, but for the short term and that short term is profit. Glencore’s experiment in South Africa must be rejected, as must its experiment at Sherwin Alimuna.