Top labour official moves to axe Amcu’s union registration

The department of labour wants terminate the union registration of Amcu.
The department of labour wants terminate the union registration of Amcu.
Image: Moeletsi Mabe

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union's registration will be cancelled because it has ceased to function in terms of its constitution and is “not a genuine trade union”.

This is according to labour relations registrar Lehlohonolo Molefe, who made the announcement in a brief government gazette notice on Wednesday.

He added that anyone wishing to appeal against his intention to cancel Amcu's registration should do so in writing within the next 60 days.

Amcu did not immediately respond to various requests for comment.

The union has just come out of a five-month strike by 14,000 of its members at Sibanye-Stillwater's gold division having gained nothing more than what other unions had agreed on in November.

It secured a R4,000 ex-gratia payment for its members as a sweetener, but this offer was extended to all employees - at a cost of R120m to Sibanye.

The strike was seen as a humiliating defeat for Amcu, despite its president Joseph Mathunjwa's fiery rhetoric that there would be a "revolution" before the union would settle for less than its demands.

Estimates are that it will take about a decade for Amcu's members to recoup their lost wages, which have been put at between R50,000 and R60,000.

However, there are anecdotal stories of heavy debt incurred by striking workers to pay for food, rent and school fees during the labour action.

Amcu has a history of long strikes, most famously bringing the platinum industry around Rustenburg to its knees with a five-month strike in early 2014. Companies such as Lonmin never fully recovered from the strike. The world's third largest platinum producer is now a takeover target by Sibanye in an all-share deal.

Amcu is alleged to have not held a leadership election in the past decade.

Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman has accused Mathunjwa of ulterior motives in calling the gold strike, suggesting it could have more to do with the union's opposition to the takeover of Lonmin, where Amcu is the sole recognised union.

Mathunjwa has denied this claim, insisting that the strike was about addressing the legacy of apartheid wages.

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