Workers at chrome mine in North West remain underground for sixth day
About 290 members of Numsa at Lanxess’s Rustenburg chrome mine remained underground for the sixth day on Monday, as the union was due to meet managers to discuss workers’ grievances.
Numsa said its members did not come up after their shift ended on Wednesday afternoon, as they demanded action be taken against a mine captain who allegedly sexually assaulted and victimised one of Numsa’s female members. They have been underground ever since.
The union said the alleged perpetrator had not been suspended and no disciplinary action had been taken against him.
Numsa regional secretary Jerry Morulane said there was a meeting on Sunday between the union; its mother body, the SA Federation of Trade Unions; the department of mineral resources; and the company, "at which progress was made".
"It was agreed that the person alleged to have taken advantage of our senior comrade will be suspended and that the investigation of her claims will be undertaken," Morulane said.
He added that another meeting would take place on Monday and that the union's members had resolved to remain underground until all its issues had been resolved.
Morulane said what prevented the parties from reaching a settlement was Lanxess's treatment of the union over a number of months, during which 50 Numsa members had been dismissed.
Morulane said Numsa was calling on the employer to review the dismissals.
Morulane said no disciplinary action should be taken against the 290 members who remained underground because they had been provoked by the company's failure to take action against the mine captain.
Food and water were delivered to the workers for the first time on Sunday.
Lanxess was not available for comment on Monday morning. On Friday, the company's spokesperson, Nomzamo Khanyile, said Lanxess viewed the employees' action as an unprotected strike.