Johannesburg - The Marikana wage deal set a dangerous
precedent, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary
Zwelinzima Vavi said on Wednesday.
"If those workers forced the hand of the company in
that fashion through an unprotected strike, what stops Driefontein in doing the
same," Vavi asked delegates at Cosatu's national congress in Midrand,
Earlier on Wednesday Vavi had to leave the congress to deal
with a strike at Gold Fields [JSE:GFI] Driefontein mine in Carletonville where 15 000
workers have been on an illegal strike for the past 10 days.
Leaders of the National Union of Mineworkers (Num)
On his return from the mine Vavi said the mineworkers were
demanding a salary of R12 500. This was the same demand made by workers at
Lonmin's Platinum mine in Marikana, North West.
On Tuesday Lonmin [JSE:LON] workers accepted a final offer of a 22% increase giving some workers R11 000 a month.
Vavi warned that other workers would think that they too
could get substantial increases by going on illegal strikes.
"We are not saying that workers do not deserve their
money, but if we are not careful this may mean an end of the central bargaining
system in the country.
"Workers will just embark on wildcat strikes and steam
ahead and force us to follow them."
He called for the congress to come up with a radical
commitment to putting workers interests first.
He said the Driefontein workers were having problems with
their Num branch leaders. "(However) they all remain loyal members of
The workers said they would not abandon the union just because
of their problems with the branch leaders.
Vavi said the workers were demanding that the leaders be
dismissed and would not listen to argument that according to Cosatu's
constitution there were processes to follow.
The Num would hold a special national executive committee
meeting on Wednesday night to discuss the issue.
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