Labour union blames bosses for strikes
COSATU has placed the blame for illegal and violent mine strikes at the door of the mining bosses.
The labour federation yesterday refused to blame its affiliate, the National Union of Mine workers (NUM), for the lapse in leadership that led to workers embarking on unprotected strikes.
The strikes largely engulfed the platinum and gold mines in North West, Gauteng and Free State.
"We reiterate what we said at the (Cosatu) congress, that it is the mine employers in general and Impala bosses in particular who must take full responsibility for all the strikes that are spreading across the mining industry."
"Impala made a grave error in offering an 18% increase to one category to the exclusion of the rest of the workers there , and more seriously, outside the collective bargaining process," Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said.
"Expectations were raised not by the NUM, but by the employers and the recent mineworkers strikes were a response to the employer's miscalculation," Vavi said.
He slated Lonmin's decision to engage with stakeholders who do not enjoy recognition rights in the collective bargaining, saying it had set a bad precedent.
"Lonmin should have known that getting wage negotiations to be facilitated by the churches and allowing everybody, no matter their legal status, to play a role in the negotiations would create a precedent they would not be willing to repeat anywhere else," he said.
With NUM leaders being openly rejected in most mines where there are strikes, Vavi has vowed that the federation and the union would offer leadership despite "acts of intimidation at some mines against members and leaders of NUM".
"Now that the workers have embarked on unprotected strikes on their own, the NUM, with the active support of Cosatu, have an obligation to lead the workers who are on strike and channel their demands to the employers."
NUM secretary Frans Baleni said the union had started talks with the Chamber of Mines and would meet them again today.
Baleni cautioned mine bosses to desist from firing workers who have been on an illegal strikes since that would worsen the already volatile situation.
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini said an investigation had to be conducted to determine an acceptable minimum living wage for the sector.
SACP deputy secretary Solly Mapaila said there should be no confusion about the fact that the mine bosses were to blame for the upheaval.
"Mine bosses are instigators and they used this situation to divide the workers," he said.