A wildcat strike temporarily closed the Zondereinde mine, with Northam stating that members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) intimidated non-striking workers.
While the weeklong strike action is now resolved, hostility between the NUM and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) continues.
AMCU treasurer Jimmy Gama told Reuters the union’s members were assaulted and had their hostel rooms vandalised during the strike action, which ended 20 January, because the NUM wanted to ward off AMCU at Northam.
Gama said: “They are afraid to lose members at the mine and they are now resorting to violence.”
The NUM, however, has long complained about AMCU embarking on wildcat strikes and intimidating its members into submission, which was no less apparent than in the 2014 AMCU led platinum mine strikes.
Lasting an unprecedented five months, the platinum strikes saw scores miners killed and tens of thousands of NUM members poached. Increasing the cost to companies involved by between 7 and 10.5 per cent across the three years of the deal, many other miners see this as a good time to make their demands heard.
Tsepo Motloi, a worker representative from Mponeng, said: “That mood from last year is still there. Workers were told to wait and raise their demands at the right time. So this is what they are doing.”
Strike action at the Zondereinde mine, which produces 65% of Northam’s output, came to an end on 20 January. More than 5,000 NUM members downed tools over grievances including Johannesburg-based Northam’s sick leave and recruitment policies, said Livhuwani Mammburu, a spokesman for the NUM.