The Labour Court will hear an application on Wednesday by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) to stop its loss of recognition at Lonmin, the mining company has said.
“A court application has been brought by the NUM, one of the unions representing Lonmin employees, and has been set down for July 10 2013,” Lonmin said in a statement.
“While Lonmin cannot comment in detail, the case relates to membership numbers for both the NUM and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).”
Lonmin said its position remained that it wished the issue of union status at its operations could be resolved peacefully, and as quickly as possible, for the benefit of all stakeholders.
It said it was committed to the framework agreement brokered by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, which provided for amicable solutions to enhance a sustainable mining industry in South Africa.
“In preparation for this case, Lonmin filed documents to the court, elements of which became public in South Africa yesterday (July 7 2013). Clearly this case is sub judice, consequently arguments may not be made publicly prior to being put before the court.”
It was reported at the weekend that Lonmin had filed court papers proposing that a secret ballot be held to establish the union membership of its workers.
An affidavit filed by Lonmin last week in the Labour Court called for an “independent and closed ballot … to determine to which trade union, if any, the employees are affiliated.”
The company also apparently offered to suspend its termination of the NUM recognition agreement.
The replying affidavit was filed in response to an application by the NUM to interdict the loss of its recognition and the order to vacate its offices, scheduled to take effect on July 16.
The NUM has apparently asked the court to declare invalid the stop orders of the NUM members who joined Amcu in May.
It also wants its lost members – apparently about 10 000 – to be restored to its union.
Amcu filed a reply to the NUM’s allegations, calling them “opportunistic” and “patently false”.
The unions have been struggling for dominance at the Lonmin Marikana mine, resulting in violent strikes and murders.
Last year, 34 miners were shot dead and 78 were wounded on August 16 when police fired on them while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana.
In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, died in strike-related violence.
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