Fighting for miners since 1982 and ensuring equity

The 1980s were characterised by mass strikes by Cosatu members of which the NUM was the dominant union. © Sowetan.
The 1980s were characterised by mass strikes by Cosatu members of which the NUM was the dominant union. © Sowetan.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) will celebrate its 25th anniversary next month. It has faced an uphill battle with mine owners to improve the working conditions and remuneration of miners. Below is a list of its achievements since its inception.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) will celebrate its 25th anniversary next month. It has faced an uphill battle with mine owners to improve the working conditions and remuneration of miners. Below is a list of its achievements since its inception.

l NUM acted on behalf of miners at Kloof (Gold Fields). The union persuaded management to reinstate 60 strikers who had been freed from prison after facing public violence charges. It organised legal aid and bail for the 60, and others who had been in prison for six months.

l At the end of October 1983, NUM won the bargaining rights on collieries.

l By the end of 1983, it had 40000 members.

l In 1985, Cosatu was launched and gained the 40000 members.

l When Cosatu was launched, NUM became part of the largest trade union federation in the country.

l In 1987, a 21-days strike took place and in 1988 a 50-days strike at Rustenburg Platinum Refinery took place.

l In August 1989, the Rand supreme court passed a judgment nullifying potentially discriminatory mine regulation.

l In 1989, 30 NUM members were reinstated at Forskor after being dismissed for refusing to vote in elections around the formation of a communication forum for black employees.

l In 1989, the Mining Provident Fund was launched.

l NUM succeeded in negotiating different funds from non-chamber mines such as Randgold Provident Fund, Impala Provident Fund and Samancor Provident Fund, and workers managed all these funds through representation on boards.

l Managed to secure the Mine Pensions Fund as a graduate for housing loans, including other funds outside the Chamber of Mines. Consolidation of different funds into one big fund is progressing positively and some funds have already joined the fund, which is a great achievement and a major step towards achieving what NUM has been fighting for.

l Succeeded in the restructuring of De Beers Pension Fund where workers were not represented.

l Tens of thousands of rands won in compensation for members since 1982.

l Supreme court ruling ordering the reinstatement of more than 100 striking workers who were dismissed at Marievale Consolidated Mines Ltd.

l Won tacit recognition at Impala.

l In 1990, 64 black employees received blasting certificates in positions that were formerly reserved for "scheduled persons".

l In September 1993, NUM announced it will run cooperative schemes for ex-miners.

l In December 1993, it opened the first union-owned training centre in the country.

Arising from the Leon Commission Report, the Mine Health and Safety Act becomes a law in 1996. - From NUM website

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