South Africa : NUM celebrates 40 years of struggle

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on 3 December celebrated its 40th year anniversary at the old Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, Limpopo. With the theme “Back to basics,” the event was attended by around a thousand members and guests. 

BWI, represented by Fozert Mugabe, Chairperson of the Regional Women’s  Committee in Africa and Middle East, expressed its continuing solidarity with the organisation.  

Mugabe said that NUM’s affiliation with BWI provides it with a strategic platform to contribute to the global fight for climate justice, building inclusive trade unions, ensuring safe and healthy workplaces ,globalising workers’ rights, and securing a fair future for the world of work. 

Established on 4 December 1982 in Klerksdorp, now known as Mat- losana, NUM has become the voice of workers in the country’s mining, construction and energy industries. Recently, it expanded its organising work amongst metal workers.

NUM has a long history of struggle. It has been part of the liberation movement working side by side with the South Africa Communist Party (SACP) and the African National Congress (ANC) in the struggle to overthrow the apartheid government. The union also played a key role in the first democratic election in South Africa’s history in 1994.

The union owed its formation to Cyril Ramaphosa, a young legal officer of the Council of Unions of South Africa (CUSA) who was tasked to form a black mineworkers’ union in 1982.

NUM is renowned for its militant trade union actions, particularly the 1987 strike which ultimately led to the enactment of the Mine Health and Safety Act in 1996.   

Amongst other achievements, NUM successfully fought for the establishment of a Mineworkers Provident Fund (MPF) in 1989 for the benefit of all retiring and aging workers.