This is the description one can give when employees fight one another or their superiors as was informed by colleagues of what happened early this week.
I had just been informed this morning of an incident where two of the company contracted (I too happen to be working for) on Impala Platinum were assaulted early this week.
It is reported that employees were heading to their work when they were attacked by four National Union of Mineworkers/Impala employees.
The two we assaulted for going to work on surface – while those working underground and have been on strike for two weeks today were not working and threatened to attack those who were, or seemed to be, as reported before by one of the union representative last week.
As a result, this has caused fear to many of those contracting employees, mostly black, that their lives are in danger. Still, this seems not to concern many of the contracting managers.
Last week, when I spoke to one of the managers to the two employees assaulted this week whether he was not afraid of being attacked by violent Impala workers and those of NUM, he said he was waiting for a call from one of the mine geologists (presumably, whether to stop his operation out of fear of being attacked). This, when I spoke to him, was after I was informed that some of Impala workers have threatened to go into contractors offices and destroy and assault those found to be working.
Further, I have observed, this is one of the cases where people, especially contract employees working on surface and not underground as those presently on strike, if not most of them, and that they operate on Impala sites – are accused of not being supportive in their strikes and assumed to be supporting their white boss who may be forcing them to come to work or lose their jobs.
Despite Impala’s Press Release on Wednesday that “disciplinary action will be taken against individuals guilty of intimidation, violence and property damage” there is little hope that this will be enforced, especially on the case mentioned here.
It may prove difficult for attacked individuals to lodge complain against their attackers to Impala itself or NUM due to the difficulty of confirming their association to the two organizations or victimization.
For anyone around Implats site/operations it is difficult to come to work and do paper work not knowing when one can be attacked or at what time. This is because, although one may not be working underground presently, there are some touch-ups needed to be done. Therefore the attacks make it difficult for independent companies to Implats to do that.
Frighteningly, there are rumours doing circles that union members have threatened to assault their wage negotiators and remove them from their positions and select a new committee. This after negotiators failed, at the time of writing, to agree to workers’ demands from Implats during wage negotiations.
If union members could assault their Chairperson as reported before, what would actually not make them assault one of their seniors again, this time NUM President?