South African union fighting mad at Forbes Coal

THE KwaZulu-Natal arm of the National Union of Mine Workers in South Africa is calling for the suspension of Forbes and Manhattan Coal Corporation’s mining licence after mine officials shut down communications with striking workers at its complex.
South African union fighting mad at Forbes Coal South African union fighting mad at Forbes Coal South African union fighting mad at Forbes Coal South African union fighting mad at Forbes Coal South African union fighting mad at Forbes Coal

Image courtesy of Forbes Coal

Donna Schmidt

NUM provincial secretary Bongani Manyoni told the Times Live that it had sent a memorandum to Forbes Coal management, but it was refused.

“Their licence should be suspended until they come to us, because we are stakeholders and we have to be considered," he said, adding that the union was told Forbes chief executive Stephan Theron had instructed his staff not to accept the communication.

Manyoni told the Times Live that the Canadian-headquartered company did not know its social obligations in the country and said that the NUM intended to make sure operations did not recommence at the Magdalena and Aviemore mines in Dundee until the company received its memo.

Tensions have been rising in the country over the past several days.

Hundreds blockaded the roads to the mine in protest after two workers were killed by private security workers at the complex. Blockading workers were sprayed with tear gas.

The strike began on October 17 over pay demands, and at the time the company referred to it as a “peaceful strike action”

The miners were seeking a pay rise to R7000, a spike of more than 100%, as well as six-month paid maternity leave for female employees.

Forbes said October 18 that it had made an offer to the workers at the KwaZulu-Natal province operations and was continuing to negotiate with unions for a short-term solution.

The company had been offering an 8.5% increase to the workers.

Manyoni told the news outlet the workers were seeking a salary increase as well as housing, a decent living allowance and for the company to adhere with and implement a mining charter while following South African social development obligations.

However, the producer’s spokesman James Duncan responded that no such arrangement existed for a company representative to receive a memorandum and that the charter was followed.

He said that officials found the group’s demands and threats to be “posturing” and were ignoring the true issues of the impasse.

“Wages and conditions of employment can be settled in a fairly orderly, structured manner," Duncan said.

Magdalena has a 51.3 million tonne measured coal resource and production capacity of 100,000 tonnes of bituminous coal per month.

Aviemore counts a 1.6Mt measured resource and estimates monthly production capacity of 25,000 tonnes of coal.

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