Impala Platinum workers vow not to return to work until demands met

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Impala Bafokeng Platinum mineworkers in Rustenburg in the North West have vowed not to return to work until all their demands are met. The workers are expected to report for duty on Sunday for their night shift when the mine reopens from the December holidays.

However, they say they will never go underground until the mine management withdraws suspension notices issued to some employees for their alleged involvement in the three days sit in December.

Before the mine closed for the December holidays, over 2 000 workers embarked on an underground sit-in for three days at the mine. They were protesting over issues relating to workers’ pension funds and the employee share scheme.

They eventually called off the sit-in and resurfaced due to hunger.

Now they say some of the workers have been dismissed, others suspended over this and yet their grievances have yet to be addressed by management.

One of the workers Lucky Moroatsene says another problem is that the mine and National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have invested their pension fund elsewhere without their knowledge.

“You invest money, but you didn’t discuss with us. We have never mandated them. There is no agreement that our money should be invested at Impala. Pay out our money and that is simple and negotiable. Not what today we are overseeing.”

The mine has see some changes after being bought by Impala: 

The striking workers are also accusing trade union NUM of selling them out.

“All we want is our money, nothing else. That’s what we came here for from very faraway places,” says one of mineworkers.

Another mineworker says; “We feel neglected by NUM, the union is no longer serving our interests. We want everyone to be back at work and be paid our monies.”

The NUM has dismissed the allegations. NUM Regional Secretary in Rustenburg, Geoffrey Moatshe says the issues raised by the workers are issues that they have always been addressing. He says if the workers do not get back, the mine may close for good.

“People took advantage of workers and their indebtedness and promised them quick money. But to this end, we are faced with a situation where the employer has threatened that if workers do not report back to work on Sunday and Monday, unfortunately, they have no option but to close the mine. Now we have gathered as NUM trying to mobilise the community and the workers because they were blocked on Thursday trying to report for duty.”

Moatshi says they will continue to engage the workers to try to reach common ground.