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We want money, demand miners

Oct 16 2012 15:01 AFP

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Carletonville - Defiant gold miners on Tuesday vowed to extend their strike for months to come unless pay demands are met, after talks aimed at ending a wave of crippling work stoppages broke down.

More than 2 500 Harmony Gold Mining Company [JSE:HAR] workers were among those rallying on Tuesday, unfazed by the prospect of losing their jobs after mine owners and union officials said that last-gasp talks to end weeks of rolling wildcat strikes had collapsed.

Workers spurned a wage deal reached last week by negotiators of the employer body Chamber of Mines of South Africa and union leaders.

The employers have ruled out a further proposal and no new talks are planned.

"We want money! The strike continues!" Moses Ngwekazi told thousands of workers gathered at a stadium near the Carletonville mine southwest of Johannesburg.

"No one is going to fire us, the strike continues. The employer can't just decide to suspend talks without offering an alternative," Ngwekazi said.

Tens of thousands of gold mine workers have been on strike for weeks, halting production.

After Monday's deadlock the Chamber of Mines left the decision to individual companies to fire the workers or radically restructure operations.

"If a solution is not found, the strike can continue for up to three months. We don't care," said mineworker Makhalemele Motaung.

Harmony workers are demanding pay hikes to R18 500 per month.

Meanwhile in a pre-dawn raid, police arrested 40 striking workers who had seized equipment worth millions of dollars at Anglo American's Kumba Iron Ore [JSE:KIO] mine west of the country.

They were part of nearly 300 workers that Kumba sacked on Monday following an illegal strike they launched nearly two weeks ago at its Sishen mine in Northern Cape province.

"At about three o'clock this morning, we entered the mine premises where the illegal strikers were keeping the mine equipment in their possession.

"We managed to arrest about 40 of them," said Lieutenant Colonel Hendrik Swart, police spokesperson for Northern Cape.

Sishen in a statement confirmed the "illegal occupation of the company's Sishen mine has been brought to an end by the police who removed the strikers in the early hours of the morning".

Police regained possession of and handed over heavy mining equipment - including 88 haul trucks - that the striking workers had seized since the strike started on October 3.

The miners had threatened to destroy the equipment if a pay increase of R15 000 for all workers, above what they already earn, had not been met.

Those arrested will face contempt of court charges after they ignored a Labour Court order to vacate the mine and release equipment worth R3.3bn, police said.


 
 
 

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