Court lays down law on NUM, AMCU, Lonmin feud

A Lonmin statement

The Johannesburg Labour Court yesterday ordered that the recognition agreement between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Lonmin will terminate on 16 July 2013 if by that date the NUM is unable to show that it is sufficiently representative in terms of the current recognition agreement. The court also ordered that Lonmin withdraw the notice sent on 16 May 2013 which sought to accelerate the withdrawal of the NUM’s recognition rights. Therefore NUM will be entitled to access its current office and transport facilities during the notice period.

During the course of discussions over several months, the NUM acknowledged that it had fallen below the majority threshold and agreement had been reached with the Company on the necessary approach.

On 17 May 2013, the Company announced that it was expediting procedures for the removal of majority union privileges from the NUM, which is now a minority union at Marikana. These privileges come with majority union status, in terms of Central Bargaining Forum 1, which is now held at Lonmin by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), with approximately 70% representation. The company has been involved in lengthy discussions with AMCU aimed at concluding a new recognition agreement recognising its majority status. This would provide the optimal environment for all stakeholders to promote a reduction of tensions on the ground and the building of a peaceful workplace.

Lonmin’s decision to accelerate certain aspects of the process to de-recognise the NUM was not taken lightly. Lonmin considered the situation in totality, and in particular, the need to defuse escalating tensions caused by recent events which compromised the safety of our employees and community members. We are disappointed that the process of accelerating the withdrawal of rights may not be implemented.

On 23 May 2013, Lonmin announced that the negotiations at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to conclude a new recognition with AMCU had not yielded an agreement. The Company therefore requested that this matter be referred to arbitration by the CCMA. The CCMA has scheduled the arbitration for 26 June 2013.

AMCU is the majority union at Lonmin. Today’s court order does not preclude the Company and AMCU from continuing with arbitration proceedings or from concluding a recognition agreement.

Lonmin continues to believe in the principle of an all-inclusive recognition agreement with all other parties as the solution to long-term sustainability in the industry. The company urges all parties to respect the court’s ruling and promote peaceful negotiation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *