The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Wednesday urged delegates at its Bargaining Conference in Johannesburg to openly submit their wage demands as it prepared to go into negotiations with mining houses.
The union fell out of favour with its constituency last year after it failed to secure wage hike demands. This led to a wave of unprotected and fatal strikes in the mining sector.
Rival trade union Amcu emerged as a major player in the mining industry, while many workers also represented themselves by forming ad hoc committees.
NUM deputy president Piet Matosa said delegates must openly express their concerns to avoid rival unions making inroads at South Africa's mining houses.
The future of the union will depend on its effectiveness during this year's negotiations, Matosa said.
“If we lose this year in 2013, I don’t know what is going to happen. 2013 is a very crucial year for us.”
He said delegates should keep this in mind when deciding on the demands that will be taken to companies when wage talks officially begin.
Num's failure to provide strong leadership has been highlighted as one of the route causes behind protests in Marikana which ended in 44 people being killed.