VENTURES AFRICA – The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has planned a series of marches in South Africa’s North West province in an attempt to prompt mines in the area to treat all workers justly.
These marches – which will be mainly held in Marikana – will run for two weeks and could trigger violence between rival unions in an area that has seen volatility since August last year.
More than 34 people were killed in August last year in Lonmin’s Marikana mine when workers belonging to the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) went on an illegal strike.
North West is an area where the platinum rich Rustenburg platinum belt is situated.
Solly Phetoe, Cosatu provincial spokesperson, said the mines in the area were not treating workers belonging to its bigger affiliate, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), like they did workers of other rival unions.
NUM’s biggest rival in the area is AMCU, which claims to be a majority union in Lonmin’s Marikana mine.
AMCU and NUM in Marikana warned last month that they could embark on strike action, fighting over organisational rights.
AMCU wants NUM to vacate its offices in Marikana because it is now a minority union in the Lonmin mine.
The rival unions have been fighting for supremacy at the mine for a while now. This has led to violent strikes and deaths.
Phetoe claimed that NUM members had been threatened. He accused the mine management of forcing NUM to prove its membership knowing well that NUM could not organise freely on the mine.
The Lonmin marches in the next two weeks will demand Lonmin to give it a chance “until the situation in the area has normalised and all unions are allowed to exist side-by-side in peace”.