Things are about to heat up on the platinum belt and the gold fields.
Published in the Government Gazette on Wednesday, the notice is brief and blunt: the department of labour intends to cancel the registration of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) as a trade union “for the following reasons”:
“The trade union has ceased to function in terms of its constitution (and) … The trade union is not a genuine trade union as envisaged in the act.”
Amcu will have 60 days to lodge its objections and its officials were not immediately available for comment. But its objections may not just come in writing. While it has always denied the allegations, violence and mayhem are often a feature of Amcu strikes and recruiting drives. And its president, Joseph Mathunjwa, is bound to see sinister motives behind the move. He formed Amcu after a falling out with current Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, who was then with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Amcu has always had a strong anti-ANC streak. The timing, this close to elections, is bound to be seen in a political light.
If Amcu does lose its legal status as a union, it will add a new layer of uncertainty to South Africa’s mining sector. Platinum wage talks are looming and Amcu is the majority union – will its members surrender their union cards and allow NUM to negotiate on their behalf? The potential for unrest is huge. Watch this space. DM
"Last century’s magic is this year’s science." ~ Cherie Priest