Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa. Picture: SOWETAN
Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa. Picture: SOWETAN

Militant union leader Joseph Mathunjwa is set to retain his position as president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) when the organisation elects its new leadership this week.

Amcu’s long-awaited conference got under way in Johannesburg on Wednesday and will end on Friday with the election of the new leadership.

In March, labour relations registrar Lehlohonolo Molefe issued a notice of his intention to deregister Amcu, saying the union had violated its own constitution, a move the militant union described at the time as a political attack aimed at destroying it.

Amcu general secretary Jeff Mphahlele said his union was “targeted” by the labour registrar because it was a progressive and militant trade union and the biggest in the platinum sector.

Molefe charged that Amcu had not held an elective conference for five years and had effectively ceased to function as a “genuine trade union” as envisaged in the Labour Relations Act (LRA).

But on September 1, Molefe ditched plans to deregister the union after a number of written representations from the leadership of the union, the largest in SA’s platinum industry with more than 200,000 members.

Amcu rose to prominence for leading the strike that led to the Marikana massacre in August 2012. Thirty-four protesting Lonmin mineworkers were gunned down by police. Ten people, including police officers, had been killed in the preceding week.

In a media briefing in Boksburg on Wednesday, Amcu head of organisational development Krister Janse van Rensburg said the positions of president, deputy president, national chair for health & safety, national treasurer, and national chair for education, were all uncontested.

The conference was expected to discuss and take resolutions on issues regarding the economy and industry, environment and safety, and labour market issues and social development.

On Thursday, labour and employment minister Thulas Nxesi was expected to address the conference, followed by a keynote address by Mathunjwa. After lunch on Thursday the delegates will discuss the organisational and financial reports in a closed session.

On Friday, the last day of the conference, at which Amcu's constitution will also be reviewed and amended, a new leadership will be elected by voting delegates.