NUM 'to defend jobs'

Kea Modimoeng

Kea Modimoeng

The National Union of Mineworkers has vowed to take up arms against future retrenchments especially where employers' reasons are not clear.

According to the NUM, many companies, including Lonmin, have been "dogged by poor planning and workers are used in the process as scapegoats".

Frans Baleni, general secretary of the NUM, said yesterday: "Management cannot just talk of retrenchments when they themselves had failed to take due care. The NUM is gearing for a big fight to defend jobs.

"Our members are ready for action, they are ready for war to defend jobs," he said.

The union also condemns the attitude of the companies for running to the public and causing shock for their employees even before talking to unions.

Baleni was referring to Anglo Platinum chief executive Neville Nicolau who hinted during the company's financial results presentations earlier this week that it might cut 10000 jobs this year to cope with current economic conditions.

Nicola Smit, a labour law professor at the University of Johannesburg, said Section 189 (the "retrenchments clause") of the Labour Relations Act has provisions for both parties to evaluate the reasons for the proposed retrenchments.

She said: "The employer will have to prove that there is a need to cut jobs and should illustrate clear reasons why the company intends to retrench workers. The court will evaluate if it is fair and necessary to cut jobs."

She said strike action could probably only help to give awareness but it would not necessarily solve the main problem.