National strike warning for South Africa

 ·2 May 2024

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has warned of countrywide mass action against the mining sector if companies do not heed their calls to reverse planned mass job cuts.

This was revealed by NUM president, Dan Balepile, in an interview with SABC News on the sidelines of Congress of South African Trade Unions’ (Cosatu’s) Workers’ Day rally in Potchefstroom in the North West on 1 May.

The union, which has around 300,000 members, plans to march to Sibanye Stillwater’s offices in the West Rand on 11 May to strike over previous and planned mass retrenchments of mineworkers.

“If they do not listen to [us], we [are going] to apply for a Section 77 to march throughout the country [to protest against] all these companies that are retrenching our members in the numbers,” said Balepile.

In February, Sibanye Stillwater said that it laid off 2,600 employees from its loss-making operations to ensure the sustainability of its South African PGM operations.

Earlier this month, the group said that it was looking to cut another 4,000 jobs to restructure its gold operations and Southern Africa region services functions.

“It is very unfortunate what Sibanye is doing [but] it’s not only limited to Sibanye,” said Balepile.

“We are counting now thousands and thousand of members that have already been retrenched and then talking to Sibanye, they have issued a statement that 4,000 of our members and employees in general will be retrenched,” he added.

As a result, Balepile said that along with other unions, they will be embarking on a “mass action” on the 11th of May to show their discontent and if this falls on deaf ears, mass action would escalate.

Read: A rock and a hard place: Urgent policy reforms only way to save mining sector

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