IMPALA Platinum (Implats) said it was confident work would resume at its Rustenburg operations by night shift today after its majority union, the Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (AMCU) caused a stoppage related to inter-union rivalry.
“As I speak AMCU is addressing its members,” said Johan Theron, a spokesman for the platinum group metal (PGM) company on Wednesday.
“AMCU stopped the return to work today of contractors. It was an unprotected work stoppage in which they raised concerns about workers returning to the mine,” he said.
The background to the dispute is that the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) had been luring AMCU members employed at contractors to its own ranks. The competition between unions is an industry-wide phenomenon, said Theron.
Competition heated up about two weeks ago with contractor employees not attending work at Implats so that they complete the process of switching unions. This impacted Implats to a limited extent because the company could draft in other contractors, said Theron.
“It has mainly affected No. 1 shaft that mostly uses contractors. This is a shaft where we have tried to extend the life through the use of contractors,” he said.
AMCU raised objections to the sudden return to work of many contractors citing risks to Covid-19 protocols. It was important to AMCU to demonstrate it had this strength and the switch of union members among contractors was not a victory for NUMSA, said Theron.
According to an industry source, other operations in the platinum belt had not been affected to date.
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