Rustenburg - The troubled Lonmin [JSE:LON] mine in Marikana in the
North West has refrained from issuing warning letters to striking workers in
order to avoid "harming" ongoing negotiations.
"Union leaders showed commitment to speak to
workers...we did not want to send conflicting messages," said spokesperson
Production at the world's third biggest platinum producers
came to a halt as thousands of workers, mostly rock drillers, embarked on a
wage strike last Friday.
The company on Tuesday indicated they would issue warning
letters to workers to return to work.
Talks between Lonmin and the two unions, the National Union
of Mineworkers (Num) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union
(Amcu) continued throughout the day.
The talks would resume on Thursday, said Mokwena.
Hundreds of armed workers had gathered again on a hill top
at nearby Wonderkop.
Earlier on Wednesday police made their way to the hill to
negotiate a truce with workers who had gathered there since early morning.
Spokesperson Captain Dennis Adriao said the plan was to
disarm the workers and normalise the situation.
The negotiations stalled later in the afternoon as workers
started wielding traditional weapons and chanting war songs.
Num president Senzeni Sokwana was ejected by the workers as
he tried to persuade them to return to work. The workers had earlier demanded
that Zokwana get out of the police van he was in and speak to them directly.
His call to them to return to work was met with shouting and chants from the
crowd, who refused to listen to him. Zokwana, who was speaking from inside the
police vehicle, could no longer get a word across and had to be whisked away by
Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu)
Joseph Mathunjwa however received a warm welcome from the workers.
They clapped and shouted "Amandla!" as Mathunjwa
delivered his speech.
Mathunjwa said he agreed with the workers that the police
should leave the area.
"We could have spoken to you a long time ago had it not
been for the police presence here," he said.
He told them management had promised not to fire them as
long as they returned to work.
"The power is yours, but you need to go back to work so
that negotiations with management can commence."
On Friday, thousands of Lonmin rock drill operators started
an illegal strike and protest march.
Ten people - two police officers, two security guards, three
protesters and three other men - have been killed since then.
The body of the tenth victim, clad in khaki, was found about
100m from the hilltop where workers had gathered on Tuesday afternoon.
Adriao said the dead police officers could not be named yet
as their families had not identified them yet.
One officer was based in the North West while the other was
from Gauteng, he said.
The protests are believed to be linked to rivalry between
the Num and the Amcu over recognition agreements at the mine.
Workers also wanted higher wages. They claim to be earning R4
000 a month, with those living outside the hostel earning an extra R1 000.
Reported demands included pay of R12 500 a month.
The workers told journalists that they did not care about
the unions and only wanted a wage increase.
Police continue to patrol the violence-stricken Lonmin
platinum mine in Marikana, Rustenburg, said Adriao.
"There was a high police presence at the mine
throughout Wednesday night and we have not received any reports of violence or
deaths," Captain Dennis Adriao said.
Police officials would hold a media briefing at the mine at
8:30am on Thursday.
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