The South African Federation of Trade Union, SAFTU to draw the attention of South Africans and workers the world over that about 200 workers employed by the Lanxess Chrome Mine, staged an underground sit-in in protest against sexual harassment of a colleague by a senior manager, the systematic dismissal of other colleagues by management and for organisational rights.
This underground sit-in has been going on since Wednesday the 19 June 2019. Management of the mine has sought to punish these workers fighting for their rights by denying them food and water.
NUMSA intervened at the most senior level and through it’s General Secretary engaged the Acting CEO Ms Boitumelo Mbatha. A framework was agreed to in the early hours of Saturday morning only for management to renege against all that was agreed. The mine bosses instead of finalising an agreement sought to starve workers into submission and launched an interdict application at around 18:00 on Saturday.
This forced SAFTU and the senior mine inspectors of the Department of Minerals and Energy to intervene. A meeting was convened on Sunday morning and lasted for 8 hours. Another framework was developed with only one outstanding matter related to the dismissal of 56 union activists who have been targeted for the membership of NUMSA.
The CEO and the NUMSA General Secretary met on Monday the 24 June 2019 to try and resolve the impasse only for the CEO to suddenly adopt an intransigent stance that frustrated any attempt to resolve the issues. Since then, the CEO has adopted an attitude of not taking calls of both SAFTU and NUMSA.
Management, contrary to the agreement reached on Sunday, is stopping the supply of food and water to the workers who have been underground for a week now. At least five workers have been hospitalized this far for dehydration and hunger.
SAFTU condemns this management barbarism. Not even in the war do opponents starved for basics such as food and water. Management has demonstrated an uncaring and cruel attitude throughout the impasse.
SAFTU is shocked by the levels of unprofessionalism in which management including the acting CEO has resorted to not answering phones, not returning calls, telling lies in order to escape taking responsibility to solve the challenge at hand, using security to bully workers into submission and using food as a negotiating bar to bit workers into submission.
A meeting has been confirmed for 11:00 at the offices of the Lanxess lawyers in Sandton. We hope the attitude will change and a durable solution will be found.
We have made a call on the Minister of Mineral and Energy to intervene. Management is building the same militarized environment that led to the Marikana massacre on the 16 August 2012. We hope that Minister Mantashe will intervene and force parties back to the negotiating table to find a solution to the crisis.