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Fears that gold strike may turn violent

Sep 05 2013 20:48 Sapa, Reuters
Striking mine workers who support the National Uni

Striking mine workers who support the National Union of Mineworkers, which represents the bulk of 120 000 workers affected. View gallery. (Alexander Joe, AFP)

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Johannesburg - The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) union said members were attacked at Sibanye's Beatrix gold mine, raising fears that an until now peaceful strike in the sector may turn violent.

Amcu said on Thursday that its members were beaten up, allegedly by striking members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

"They attacked our members. They were badly assaulted and admitted to hospital," Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa told Reuters.

He said the attacks were on company premises, with some miners attacked in the shower after surfacing from underground.

Amcu secretary Jeff Mphahlele said that its members have been taken to hospital.

"We expect our members to report for duty without being intimidated," he said. "Our members are not on a strike. We are still negotiating."

The NUM called a strike on the gold mines after its wage talks with producers deadlocked.

The union is demanding R7 000 a month for surface workers and R8 000 a month for underground workers.

Disciplinary action

NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said it would take disciplinary action against any of its members found to have been involved in the attack.

"We have called the police in the area and there was no confirmation of the incident," he said.

He said the NUM was still consulting its members about the latest offer from the Chamber of Mines.

"The strike committee have taken the revised offer to the workers and will be addressing them," he said.

"I'm unable to say if it is close or far to what we demanded. The strike committee meeting is underway to evaluate it and decide if we take it to the members or reject it outright."

Gold producers' spokesperson Charmane Russell said a revised offer had been made to the union, but would not say what the changes were.

"At this stage, I cannot say which aspects of the offer were revised..., but discussions are at a delicate stage," she said.

Seshoka said the revision was indicative that talks between the union and employers were taking place in good faith.

Markets

"The sentiment surrounding the strike has been effectively moderated by deals with smaller producers," said David Davis, mining investment analyst at SBG Securities in Johannesburg.

"It means that the NUM is more amenable and the likelihood of a prolonged strike is no longer there."


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lesiba seshoka  |  wages  |  mining unrest  |  strikes
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