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Freeze top earners' salaries - Zuma

Oct 17 2012 17:29 AFP

President Jacob Zuma (Bongiwe Gumede)

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Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday called on striking workers to return to their jobs and asked company executives to take a year-long salary freeze amid widespread social unrest.

"We call on workers who are engaged in unprotected strikes to return to work as soon as possible and for production in the mining industry to be normalised," said Zuma after meeting with unions and business leaders in Pretoria.

Violent work stoppages have ground the mining industry to a halt as tens of thousands of people downed tools demanding higher pay, leaving over 50 people dead in clashes.

Zuma also called on senior officers in business and government to freeze salary increases and bonuses for the next year as a "strong commitment to build an equitable economy".

Amid outcry over the dire living conditions of mineworker shantytowns, Zuma also announced a plan to develop major mining areas.

"We have developed measures dealing with... the living conditions of mining communities," he said.

Thousands of people live in slums around mines with no electricity, running water or sanitation.

These included the strike-torn platinum town of Rustenburg where police killed 34 striking workers at the Lonmin platinum [JSE:LON] mine in Marikana on August 16.

Key gold mining areas of the West Rand and Carletonville southwest of Johannesburg, where massive illegal stoppages have ground gold production to a halt in recent weeks, will also be developed.

The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), public road and electricity providers and other development agencies will take part in the "implementation plan".

The plan included ramping up infrastructure construction projects to create jobs and curb reckless lending.

Zuma's announcement on Wednesday was his government's first decisive step to halt the widespread unrest.

jacob zuma  |  strikes  |  economy
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