Striking continues at three mines

Sep 13 2012 16:32

Johannesburg - Gold Fields' KDC west mine, Amplats' Thembelani mine, and Lonmin platinum mine remained idle on Thursday as attempts to resolve a massive strike continued.

At Gold Fields, union leaders were sworn at when they tried to convince thousands of striking workers to discuss their issues with them.

"Voetsek! Fokof!" (Go! Fuck off!) workers shouted as a National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) delegate tried to address them.

The NUM delegate eventually tried to speak from one of the mine's armoured security vehicles, but people shouted "Hamba!" (Go!).

It was the second day the NUM had been unable to address the workers.

At the Blesbok stadium in Rustenburg, thousands of workers demanded an increase in pay to R16 070 a month.

They insisted they were on strike, although their employer Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) denied this, and said operations had been suspended for workers' safety.

Gaddafi Ndoda, who described himself as a member of a newly-formed workers' committee, said: "To us, R12 500 is just a basic salary."

"Anglo is the most-paying mine in the country, so our demand is different from other mineworkers," he said.

They wanted "nothing to do" with Amplats' mageu beverage; they wanted a refreshment allowance of R30 a day; a transport allowance of R60 a day and a safety allowance of R1500.

They also wanted a R2000 increase in their living-out allowance, up from R1700.

An "executive committee" of six members, representing workers outside formal union forums, had been formed and was expected to take a memorandum to the mine's management in Klipfontein, near the stadium.

Meanwhile, police released the name of the 45th person to have died in events associated with a strike at Lonmin.

He was 51-year-old rock drill operator Dumisani Mthinti.

Brigadier Thulani Ngubane, who provided his name, said he was from the Eastern Cape.

"He had two open wounds at the back of his head that showed he was hacked with a sharp object."

His body was found on Tuesday, near where a group of strikers had gathered.

National Union of Mineworkers spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said Mthinti was an NUM shop steward.

Trade union Amcu said it had been seeking an opportunity to speak to President Jacob Zuma and senior government officials to resolve the unrest in South Africa's mines and for Zuma to hold a mining indaba.

"We believe that he is the high office in the country. We could share the direction on how to curb these sporadic work stoppages. It is in the interest of the country for him to intervene," said Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa.

The Office of the ANC Chief Whip denied a report that a parliamentary delegation was too scared to go to Marikana, where the Lonmin strike is playing out.

"The only security that the ANC is deeply concerned about is the financial security of the country's poor majority, including the working, poor miners of Marikana," it said in a statement.

"No ANC MP will ever regard the suffering, striking miners as so much [of] a threat that they feel paralysed and unable to exercise parliamentary oversight to tackle the harsh conditions miners live under."

The statement expressed appreciation for all the teams and organisations trying to bring an end to the labour dispute.

A visit was planned, but politicians did not want to go just to "show face".

"We have, however, sought to delay the visit in the interest of affording the process led by government departments, the [Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration] and unions in particular, the necessary space to take its course.

"We took this conscious decision in order to avoid a situation whereby Marikana becomes a site of competing and conflicting measures to address the situation."

During this period, Parliament would "keep a watchful eye on the developments", support interventionary measures and familiarise itself with the work being done.

It would soon send a multi-party delegation to Marikana and other mines affected by the "wave of industrial protests".

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amplats  |  lonmin  |  gold fields  |  num  |  strike



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