The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) will be engaging in nationwide industrial action which will include a series of protest marches in Pretoria, Polokwane, Durban and Welkom which will culminate in the handing over of a memorandum to officials of the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR).

On 29 August 2017 AMCU filed a section 77 notice to the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC). It highlighted a series of regulatory shortcomings on the side of the DMR. AMCU showed how these regulatory failures led to a variety of socioeconomic ills such as unemployment, poverty and inequality in the South African society.

These three core challenges, according to AMCU, are made even worse by the mass retrenchments of the past years and specifically during the latter part of 2017.

The mining sector directly employs around 500 000 people, while it is responsible for the indirect livelihoods of hundreds of thousands, if not millions more.

In our notice letter we included to following demands to the DMR:

  1. Ensure stricter enforcement of the Social and Labour Plan (SLP) objective to “promote and advance the social and economic welfare of all South Africans”;
  2. Do an independent audit of the Annual SLP Reports submitted by mining companies;
  3. Provide clearer guidelines for implementing the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), including but not limited to the establishment and functioning of Future Forums, as well as re-skilling and Human Resource Development (HRD) strategies;
  4. Setting stricter requirements regarding the notice to DMR in terms of section 52 of the MPRDA, specifically relating to issues such as:
    1. Required deadlines for the submission of section 52 notices to the DMR, such as a 90-day deadline to complete section 52 processes before any other process can be embarked upon, including downsizing and retrenchment in terms of section 189 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA);
    2. Providing specific resources to all stakeholders, including organised labour, to benefit and participate in the verification of technical information regarding the sustainability and profitability claims made by mining companies; and
    3. Requiring full disclosure of possible acquisitions of mining operations before or during the section 52 process.
  5. Performing an independent audit of Future Forums;
  6. Ensuring the implementation of the commitments made at the Mining Phakisa; and
  7. Fast-tracking research and development studies on the possible economic opportunities in expanding the mineral beneficiation and manufacturing sectors.

“It is important to note that these marches form part of a larger socio-economic protest. We are protesting about things that affect everybody in South Africa. We seek to put demands before the DMR to ensure that the MPRDA is enforced,” says AMCU in a media statement.

“Failure to enforce the MPRDA also causes frustration in the communities, which leads to confrontation and absolute violence. It is exactly because of such failures, that a bus was set alight at Lonmin on 23 November 2017, when one of our members were burnt to ashes. The same happened in May last year, when members of the community were clear that these protests were the result of mining companies not investing enough in surrounding communities.”

However, the DMR failed to resolve the matter with AMCU and a deadlock was reached at NEDLAC on 9 November 2017. NELAC issued a certificate of non-resolution on 17 November 2017, and AMCU has decided to start its nationwide industrial action with a series of marches on 20 March 2018.

President Joseph Mathunjwa will be leading the march in Pretoria, while members of the National Executive Committee will lead the other marches.