Impala Says NUM Union Has ‘Way to Go’ Before Gaining Recognition

The National Union of Mineworkers, which used to speak for the most employees at Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., has “some way to go” before regaining recognition at the second-biggest producer, the company said.

The NUM represents 7 percent of the workforce, while 30 percent is needed for organizational rights at Impala, Johan Theron, the company’s Johannesburg-based human-resources executive, said in an e-mail response to questions. The NUM fell below the previous requirement of 50 percent in March 2012 and legally lost recognition in February this year, he said.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union has unseated the NUM as the dominant representative at the three biggest platinum producers in South Africa, which has the largest known reserves of the metal. Union rivalry has contributed to some of the worst labor violence the country has witnessed since the end of apartheid in 1994.

“Whilst they were the legally recognized as the majority, they were not amenable to allowing AMCU access or rights,” Theron said of the NUM. Equally, the AMCU, which on July 10 signed a recognition pact that shows it speaks for “a little more than 50 percent” of Impala workers, isn’t supportive of lowering the required threshold, he said.

In August, police killed 34 protesters at Lonmin Plc’s Marikana platinum mine in South Africa during a strike that formed part of a wave of labor disruptions for the industry.

The long period taken to strip the NUM of its recognition rights was caused by the violence and intimidation before and after the Marikana, Theron said.

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