A wildcat strike has hit Impala Platinum’s Marula mine in Limpopo, raising concerns with investors that history is repeating itself in terms of union wars between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).
“What happened at Marula is 100% what happened at Rustenburg two and a half years ago,” said a senior Implats manager, referring to a wildcat strike by rock drill operators at Implats’ key Rustenburg mine on the western limb in early 2012, which ended with AMCU kicking NUM out of the shafts.
While the current wildcat strike is taking place on new turf, it is following the old pattern with AMCU looking set to elbow NUM out of the shafts at Marula, battling for supremacy on the eastern arm of South Africa’s platinum belt after its recent five-month wage strike.
“Like Marula, when the NUM guys went to address the Rustenburg strikers, they were chased away. The rock drill operators at Rustenburg also wanted the same pay as the rock drill operators at other mines in the area,” the Implats manager said.
The 2 000 wildcat strikers who downed tools at Marula on July 3 have said they want Amcu’s recently-secured 20% wage hike deal with Implats, in place of the 8% hikes NUM secured for them last year.
NUM sources believe that Amcu is making headway north of Marula at Amplats’ Twickenham mine in an effort to round up additional support eastern limb, an area that is expected to be less affected by industry restricting and job cuts that have been predicted for the western limb.
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