Solidarity noted with great sadness the death of David Sipunzi, General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). Solidarity also expresses its condolences to Sipunzi’s family and also to Sipunzi’s colleagues at the NUM.
According to Solidarity, Sipunzi was a warrior for fair treatment in the workplace, but also a unifying figure who could temporarily push politics and ideology aside for the sake of promoting peaceful labour relations.
“In addition to David’s commitment to promoting employee interests, he also campaigned for unity among trade unions, and he was able to rise above differences to promote unity,” explained Solidarity General Secretary Gideon du Plessis. “David will also be remembered for his unique approach to negotiations where he could state his viewpoint in no uncertain terms, and he never hesitated to take a strong stand on issues close to his heart.”
Solidarity said that in this incredible challenging year, Sipunzi stood out as a leading figure for underground safety in South African mines.
“Especially during this year, David repeatedly expressed his concern to mining bosses and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy that the balance struck between protecting mineworkers against both Covid-19 and retrenchments has been insufficient,” Du Plessis said.
“David’s untimely death came at a time when labour relations within South Africa and the world have been forced into unprecedented waters. This is a huge loss for his family, the NUM and labour relations across our country. However, he leaves an indelible footprint in our world, and for many years we will refer to David’s legacy in the industry and the particular way in which he approached matters. David’s legacy lives on in the way he was able to influence others and reconcile enemies,” Du Plessis concluded.