South Africa Mines Chamber Says Union Should Pay Own President

South African mining companies that employ the National Union of Mineworkers’ two top leaders should no longer have to pay their union-related salaries, the Chamber of Mines said.

The payment of wages by the companies that employ the office bearers is a legacy policy from when the union was a developing organization, said Vusi Mabena, a stakeholder relations executive at the Chamber of Mines. The union’s president is Senzeni Zokwana and his deputy is Piet Mathosa.

“The union has grown strong enough to carry their own costs” and the policy is under review, Mabena said by phone from Johannesburg today.

The union was founded in 1982 by workers including Cyril Ramaphosa, who went on to lead the biggest-ever strike in the country’s gold industry five years later and is now richest black South African after Patrice Motsepe, according to the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times. The NUM vies with the National Union of Metalworkers to be the biggest in the Congress of South African Trade Unions, which has been in alliance with the ruling African National Congress since the first all-race elections in 1994.

The NUM is losing support to other organizations including the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, or AMCU, which is the biggest representative of workers at Anglo American Platinum Ltd. (AMS), Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. (IMP) and Lonmin Plc (LMI), the three biggest producers, according to preliminary figures from the companies. South Africa has the world’s biggest known reserves of the metal.

Union officials have been alerted to the termination of the agreement by mining companies that pay the salaries, the Johannesburg-based Daily Maverick reported yesterday, citing Chamber of Mines Chief Executive Officer Bheki Sibiya.

“The president is a member employed by AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (ANG) and he’s paid by his employer; I don’t know what’s wrong with that,” NUM General Secretary Frans Baleni said by phone. “We’ve just heard that the Chamber of Mines in their own discussions, wants to review. If they’ve got issues they will come to us and we’ll hear what they have to say.”

AngloGold is the world’s third-biggest producer of the metal.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Burkhardt in Johannesburg at pburkhardt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net

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