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Marikana sets 'dangerous precedent'

Sep 20 2012 07:58 Sapa

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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, Johannesburg.

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) accompanied him.

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 Num."

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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cosatu  |  wage disputes  |  mining unrest
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