NUM President, Piet Matosa leads a march to fight against retrenchments in the mining industry in Johannesburg on 5 August
IndustriALL Global Union South African affiliate, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), took to the streets of Johannesburg on 5 August and marched to the offices of mining company AngloGold Ashanti to protest proposed retrenchments of 8,500 workers at mines in Carletonville and Matlosana.
The union called on the government to intervene through job protection policies in important sectors of the economy such as mining, construction and energy.
The mines have ignored an agreement that ensured job protection, leading NUM to demand a month’s salary for every year served as part of the retrenchment package.
NUM called on mining companies in South Africa to find ways to save jobs especially in an environment where at least 70,000 mining jobs have been lost over last five years, according to the Chamber of Mines.
As well as the proposed job losses at AngloGold Ashanti, close to 6,000 workers are set to lose their jobs at Bokoni Platinum, half of which are contract workers. Meanwhile, Sibanye Gold has announced plans to retrench 10,000 workers. Earlier, this year, South Africa’s Anglo American Platinum said it expected to cut up to 2,000 jobs at its Union and Twickenham mines.
“The NUM strongly condemns these irresponsible companies. The jobs bloodbath is a clear attack on the working class, communities and the poor, a direct attack on mine workers in particular,” said the union in a statement.
The NUM is accusing the mining companies of only being interested in maximizing profits and mechanizing mines and paying little attention to job security or retraining of workers. Quick retrenchments were convenient for the companies who often cited making losses as the reason behind their decision, even when they had made profits in previous years. Mining companies are not socially responsible when it came to workers’ rights and welfare, argues the NUM.
Gold mining in South Africa is also declining with some mines reaching the end of their production life, getting deeper and unsafe to mine. It is estimated that gold in South Africa will be exhausted in the next 30 years.
Glen Mpufane, Industrial director for mining, said: “We are deeply concerned at the scale of job loses proposed by AngloGold Ashanti which will seriously affect working class communities in South Africa. In 2015, AngloGold Ashanti reneged on our global framework agreement by unilaterally cancelling it. This only strengthens our resolve to unite workers across borders to stand up against the company.