Social & Community News
02 November 2017

Mooinooi – Trade union Solidarity on Wednesday, 26 October, met with Lonmin for the first time to discuss the retrenchment process in terms of which the company plans to retrench 1 139 workers, including contractors. 

Lonmin indicated at the outset that the retrenchments should be dealt with in a sensitive manner, but ironically and in contrast to this, the company insisted that redundant workers be retrenched before Christmas. 

According to Gideon du Plessis, general secretary of Solidarity, the trade union suggests that Lonmin sell its luxury game farm and conference centre located outside Mooinooi. “It is insensitive to retrench mine workers who form part of Lonmin’s core business, whilst enjoying the luxury of a game farm and accompanying modern facilities,” Du Plessis said. Lonmin management couldn’t respond to Solidarity’s demand. 

Du Plessis argues that during a public operational review briefing session held on 7 August 2017, Lonmin indicated that the company would cut its overhead costs with R500 million by September 2018. “We wanted to know whether the current retrenchment process forms part of the planned R500 million savings. Lonmin’s negotiators contradicted each other and couldn’t provide a clear answer,” Du Plessis said. Lonmin indicated that they would provide an answer in the following discussion. 

Lonmin has recently yielded to Amcu’s demand to enjoy sole recognition. As a result, Lonmin would be the only trade union to enjoy recognition at Lonmin as from 5 November 2017. According to Du Plessis, Amcu refused to participate in the retrenchment consultation process with the other trade unions and Lonmin indicated, it only wants to represent its own members in a separate process, the same demand Amcu came up with during the retrenchment process in 2015. “This development confirms the concern of Solidarity and our coalition partner, Uasa, that skilled workers, who currently belong to our trade unions, will have no trade union protection and support within a matter of days,” Du Plessis cautioned.

Du Plessis pointed out that the Labour Relations Act, fortunately, stipulates that notwithstanding its recognition status, a trade union may still represent its members during a retrenchment process. “Solidarity will therefore still be able to support and protect at all cost the rights of its skilled members after 5 November,” Du Plessis confirmed. The lifting of Solidarity and Uasa’s recognition is being contested.

“Due to the lack of confidence between Lonmin management and the Solidarity/Uasa coalition that resulted from the undemocratic suspension of our recognition, the coalition requested that the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) appoint a facilitator to facilitate the retrenchment process,” Du Plessis said.     

The official consultation process will only start once the parties have agreed on the issue of facilitation.  
Solidarity press release: 26 October 2017

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