Members came in the hundreds to hear President Mathunjwa’s first address for the year at Lonmin’s Wonderkop Stadium in the North West on Tuesday 8 February. The mood was high, many were excited and eager to hear what the President had to say.
Mathunjwa was accompanied by the general secretary Jeffrey Mphahlele, national treasurer Jimmy Gama and national organiser Dumisani Nkalitshana.
Unfortunately what the President had to say was not a warm welcome. The year might have just begun but members at Lonmin could be facing their biggest challenge yet- Retrenchment.
President Mathunjwa explained to the masses that he and the branch chairman’s were caught off guard when Lonmin CEO Ben Magara called them in for a meeting and informed them that the company was not making money.
“When a CEO of a company calls you and the branch chairman’s then you should know that a decision has already been made,” said Mathunjwa.
He said that Magara informed them during the months of September, October and November things just went downhill and that the output of production was suffering.
“I took a moment and thought to myself that Sibanye has already handed us a section 189, as well as Anglo Gold Ashanti, the meeting could not just be a coincidence. Magara was afraid to say that if things did not turn around he too would be handing us a section 189.”
He said that as a leader he could not just turn a blind eye but instead he had to let the members know what was happening. Mathunjwa added that Magara alleged that production was suffering due to absenteeism and to workers not putting in enough hours and efforts into their work.
“If it is really found that we are not working they will retrench us. So please ma-Comrade let us do our job, let us not be found guilty of all that they accusing us of. Magara went on to say that the February salaries were not guaranteed.”
Mathunjwa said that Magara reiterated that if things did not turn around by February things at Lonmin would be difficult.
“Let us not jeopardise our jobs, the men who died during the massacre at the Koppie at did not want R12500 for free, they were willing to work but for it and because they were willing to work they were not afraid to say how much they want.”
Mathunjwa informed the members that ACMU would form task teams to go through each and every department to check how the workers were doing on a day to day basis, in order to identify where the blockage in production is and find ways in which to alleviate it.
If the workers at Lonmin suffer, the contractors will suffer too.
“I am not saying do not work safely, because you should always practice safety first as your life is more important because if something happens to you who will take care of your families. As we start the task team let us show them that we own this mine. Let us save our jobs and continue to strive for better living wages.”