Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) president Joseph Mathunjwa on Thursday called on gold producer AngloGold Ashanti to reinstate 539 of its members at the Moab Khotsong mine, in Gauteng, in line with a Labour Court ruling.
In 2013, AngloGold Ashanti dismissed the 539 workers for staying away from work on a Saturday. Mathunjwa explained that the union’s members had stayed away from work following AngloGold Ashanti’s “refusal to recognise and remunerate workers accordingly for overtime”.
The Labour Court’s Justice Robert Lagrange found in favour of AMCU and its members by confirming in his November 4 judgment that the workers were “procedurally, substantively and automatically unfairly dismissed”.
Lagrange ordered AngloGold Ashanti to reinstate the 539 AMCU members with immediate effect, with 12 months’ compensation. Mathunjwa, addressing a media briefing on Thursday, noted that some of its members who were party to the case “had passed on” and that some had even taken their own lives as a result of “the high stress levels of being unable to support their families”.
He vowed that the families of the deceased would also receive compensation from AngloGold Ashanti. Mathunjwa added that, during this years’ gold wage negotiations, one of the union’s demands was that employers pay the workers the overtime money they had been “robbed” of over many years.
“Noncompliance to labour laws by employers in this country, particularly in the mining industry, continues to exacerbate the plight of the workers, who continue to work under inhumane conditions for the companies to make profits and increase production at the expense of the workers,” he stated.
MINING PHAKISA Mathunjwa said AMCU was not participating in the current State-sponsored initiative, the Mining Phakisa Laboratory, as it believed the intention of the initiative was not to improve the conditions of the mineworkers in South Africa, but rather to provide business with guarantees that their investments in the country were still secure.
“Our interest lies with our members; therefore, any engagement that is not intended to address the status quo with regard to improvement of wages and conditions of employment is futile. “Until such time that the government and business admit that there is a serious wage gap and commence with initiatives to correct it, we shall never be part of their discussions,” he emphasised.