Implats miners demand another increase

2012-09-09 22:15

Johannesburg - Monday is D-Day for the London-registered Lonmin [JSE:LON] platinum mine. It hopes workers will report for duty in the fourth week of a violent strike for higher wages that has killed 44 people and has exposed the yawning gap between the elite of high-flying millionaire mine owners and workers who live in tin shacks without electricity or water.

If workers do not return Monday, Lonmin must start shutting down shafts, Peter Major, head of mining and resources for Cadiz Corporate Solutions, was quoted as saying in South Africa's Independent Online news site.

"Financially it looks really bad, and it is really bad," Cadiz said.

Lonmin, whose shares have lost nearly a quarter of their value during the strike, has said it is negotiating with its banks to reschedule debts that fall due at the end of September.

Wildcat strikes and protests spread to two gold mines last week, where they were quickly resolved, but predictions South Africa is in for more labor unrest have shaken investor confidence.

On Sunday, Impala Platinum Holdings [JSE:IMP] mine spokesperson Johan Theron reported its 15 000-plus workers are demanding another 10% pay rise.

Theron told The Associated Press that the company already has paid a 10% salary increase in April, two months earlier than agreed.

"We've just received another request from the interim workers' committee, now asking again for 10%," he said.

Strikers closed Implats for six weeks earlier this year in a violent and illegal strike that saw one worker shot and injured. The unrest spread to a neighboring community where protesters looted and destroyed the shops and stalls run by foreigners.

Implats fired all its 17 200 workers and then selectively rehired some. It said the strike cost it R2.8bn.

South Africa holds 80% of global platinum reserves and produces nearly 75% of world needs.

Platinum is used in jewelry and catalytic converters that lower vehicle carbon emissions.

Lonmin says it hopes miners will return to work Monday as agreed under a peace accord brokered by South Africa's government and signed by the three main trade unions. But those prospects are gloomy since the deal has been rejected by the militant upstart union and some 3 000 rock drill operators who shut down operations with the strike that began August 10.

Lonmin strikers say they are holding out for a R12 500 monthly take-home pay that would double their salaries. Militants among them are threatening to kill miners and managers who go to work at the world's third-largest platinum producer.

Joseph Mathunjwa, head of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, said Sunday he has received an invitation to wage negotiations starting Monday, but was waiting to see if his breakaway union has only observer status before deciding whether to participate.

This year's strikes at Lonmin and Implats both are rooted in rivalry between the monolithic and politically connected National Union of Mineworkers and Mathunjwa's militant Amcu.

Amcu has taken thousands of members from the Num, which is accused of cozying up to management and putting business and politics before the needs of ordinary mineworkers.

The Num denies that has any shares in mines, but has bought shares in many other companies.

Recent reports show that the Num's leader earns a salary that puts him in the ranks of South Africa's business executives. Num secretary general Frans Baleni increased his salary by 40% last year and earns a total package of R105 000 a month and an additional R33 300 a month for serving on the board of the Development Bank of South Africa and its development fund.

The union is investigating the leak which provided the Mail and Guardian newspaper with the salary information.

The Mail and Guardian Sunday quoted author and analyst William Gumede saying the Num's Mineworkers Investment Company now is valued at R2.8bn. "The Num leadership is now in top management. Its leaders occupy senior leadership positions in both the (governing African National Congress), business and government ... its members sit on the boards of blue-chip companies," Gumede said.

Strikers also point to Cyril Ramaphosa, a former Num leader, who now sits on the Lonmin board. Many miners think that such close ties make the Num leadership less effective in pressing for higher wages.

It's unclear how many of Lonmin's 28 000 miners are striking. Thousands have been staying away because of intimidation and violence that killed 10 people including two police officers before police opened fire on strikers August 16, killing 34 and wounding 78.

The company warned last week that the prolonged stoppage has put 40 000 jobs in danger.

Strikers have stuck to their resolve even as they suffer from the no-work, no-pay strike that has money lenders reporting they are turning people away in Marikana, the once-sleepy farming town that now hosts the platinum mine.

The strike comes as the platinum industry suffers depressed international prices, increased costs in South Africa for transport and electricity, and lower demand from European car makers.

Aquarius Platinum Limited suspended operations at two South African mines this year, citing low prices.

Lonmin strikers say they don't care if strike forces Lonmin to shut down.

"Give us R12 500 or shut your mine!" announced a placard carried by several among some 2 000 strikers who marched on the mine last week.

The strikers have been singing songs blaming South Africa's President Jacob Zuma for the police killings of their colleagues.

So they are unlikely to be moved by Zuma's call Saturday for all those involved to commit themselves to end the violence and to peaceful negotiations.

"We cannot tolerate a situation where workers openly threaten people with murder if they exercise different choices from theirs, as it has reportedly happened in Marikana this week," Zuma said.

He has denied that violent strikes are affecting investor confidence.

But Gold One International CEO Neal Froneman said last week his company's Chinese investors are "anxious about the state of labor relations in South Africa ... They are very concerned about making future commitments to the country."

A Chinese consortium spent $330m to acquire new assets in the past year and had planned on further expansion to raise Gold One production from just over 100,000 ounces in 2011 to 1 million ounces, Froneman said.

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  • kobus.hattingh.5 - 2012-09-09 16:17

    Fire the lot.

      sekalf.nroc - 2012-09-10 08:19

      they soon earn more than I do.....

  • deon.duplessis.96 - 2012-09-09 22:33

    Don't worry Mr Froneman. According to the Lonmin strikers, they are in contact with the Chinese who will buy the Lonmin mine after its closure. Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups!

      susan.pretorius.31 - 2012-09-10 07:44

      And we all know what the Chinese think of human rights...

  • bob.small.7547 - 2012-09-09 22:36

    This is viral now, SA is stuffed...!

  • Sechaba Virgil Ndlovu - 2012-09-09 22:43

    this is good. forward comrades forward, the revolution has started.

      Thanduxolo Galada - 2012-09-10 00:13

      Amandla!!!! Phantsi nge white capital phantsi! Phantsi ngo Cyril Ramaphosa, Tokyo and Moitsepe! This land belongs to Afrika not London or any colonialists. The white supremacists must just fack off!

      KeeperofChaos - 2012-09-10 01:56

      Brain damage! Mostly to the frontal lobes, which are responsible for planning and reasoning, among other things. Sustained via a serious blow to the head or even poison. Please go for a medical checkup to avoid further damage. That is about the best reason I can come up with as to why people (sheeple) would take such action, supported by the likes of comrade Sechaba and ko. Oh yes, asprin could help bring down the swelling, but for heaven's sake please don't try swallow the entire box at once, maybe take like 10 of them ;) and wait for an hour to see if normal brain functions have been restored (temporary solution). If you try self-help, then an assistant is required, someone that wasn't dropped from height or ate poisoned mielies or sugar cane, to evaluate your answer to what 1 1 is!!

      juannepierre - 2012-09-10 02:25

      Wonder how long these comrades are going to survive without food. I think this might be a quick revolution.

      Zahir - 2012-09-10 07:24

      Forward to the nearest unemployment line

      Andre - 2012-09-10 07:29

      Where are the comrades going to get food now? The ANC or the Useless League?

      iceman196 - 2012-09-10 07:37


  • mzuvumile.g.mnqanqeni - 2012-09-09 22:43

    In view of all of demands by workers I suggest government can heed a call by having and open discussion about the salaries of workers. therefore I declare a frank discussion about salary adjustment not this huge gap we facing in universe because t is world phenomenon

  • tobydt - 2012-09-09 23:02

    Just shut the mine. Let NUM and its R3 billion companies employ the 40,000 workers.

  • Nkosiyam Maxhegwana - 2012-09-09 23:49

    Shut your mine & go away Evils

      Francois - 2012-09-10 07:44

      yeah, let them do that...oh money to buy bread then.

      deon.louw.7505 - 2012-09-11 09:46

      40 000 people are looking after an avearge 10 people, so 400 000 may start living below the breadline should the mines close down! Can the country afford this? No.

  • crracker.crackerr - 2012-09-10 00:33

    Why is it not explained to the people of this country that they actually OWN the economy by buying shares in the country's enterprises? Because the trade unions and their bosses don't like it! Plain and Simple! They need the commons (with respect) to keep on toiling for their wages with limited prospects to feed the trade union's membership fees to keep the trade union fat cats in business. All the while the fat cat trade unions warn the workers against so-called capitalist contamination but the trade union bosses live that life-style. Can someone with good writing skills please favor News24 with a proper descriptive but short articld of the said facts. We can then always in future simply copy and paste it or refer to it.

  • kaapse.snaai - 2012-09-10 01:35


  • denis.gomo - 2012-09-10 04:12

    Someone please do a back calculation and tell us what gross salary these miners are demanding considering they want a take home of R12,500. My bet is that it's not reasonable...will likely be above R16,000 which is not sustainable for rock-drill workers who are employed by their thousands.

      Millos Mpofu - 2012-09-10 05:38

      R18000 or above before adjustment and don't forget their shall work overtime.Current when they work overtime they get R16000 after adjustment R12000 GO to his pocket.Now they wantR35000 because of overtime R27000 goes to one workers pocket after adjustment

  • Rolisizwe Lunika - 2012-09-10 04:59

    The fact that Mines makes money on Mineral Resources that belong to all of us(according to the Freedom Charter),they must pay this money if their profits allow

      Francois - 2012-09-10 07:44

      and then what?

      danielle.vlok - 2012-09-10 07:52

      If their profits allow- being the key there. Salaries being doubled for thousands of workers won't be sustainable for any mine. Not in the current world economic climate.

      malcolm.macleod.562 - 2012-09-10 09:22

      They DO pay money to ALL of us. If the mineral resources belong to ALL of us like you say then why should they pay more money to only a FEW of us?

  • Thobile Lugwadu - 2012-09-10 05:32

    No retreat no surrender combrades! Victory is certain

      danielle.vlok - 2012-09-10 07:53

      What do you define as victory? 40 000 more people in this country jobless?

      deon.louw.7505 - 2012-09-11 09:50

      It sounds like 1992 not 2012, the struggle is over. Now to get people to realise that they need to work and save to build wealth.

  • masenke.tlabo - 2012-09-10 05:37

    Miners should strike till escaleting of their demand

  • Millos Mpofu - 2012-09-10 05:55

    sanction was call in 1984 by our politicians.many companies were close by that time

      deon.louw.7505 - 2012-09-11 09:52

      The only polititains that wants to close mines now are the has beens. Mr Zuma told the people to go back to work, listen to him.

  • Ntobane Setabola - 2012-09-10 06:40

    Those miners are real comrades. Stick to ur demands guys.South Africa had turned to be slavery,hard workers who risk their lives n gettin dirty take nothing to their homes while those in offices doing nothing but planning only how 2 rob the poor drive Porches n each earns a salary of 30 hard workers.\r\nNo grave of hunger in Mzanzi.

  • mkhindana.peter - 2012-09-10 06:54

    Miners think that they are special and are only hard-working employees of South Africa..R12.5 is more than enough and they still want more? They all should be fired and employ people who really need the money.

      danielle.vlok - 2012-09-10 07:54


  • gracemoremi - 2012-09-10 06:55

    fire them! wait, UNPAID LEAVE for all the days they didn't work. All these idiots want is take and not give. doesnt work like that anymore. strike again with pangas, and be killed!

  • Zahir - 2012-09-10 07:20

    The mines must outsource the labour to the chinese as the locals don't want to work

  • Francois - 2012-09-10 07:39

    give them their 10%...let the company tank...let the mine close...let them go sleep hungry every night...greed.

      appealtoreason.rationalmind - 2012-09-10 08:19

      Greed is the CEO taking over a million a month.

  • susan.pretorius.31 - 2012-09-10 07:43

    Give them another hike , out of the company and get workers that are willing to work.With an unemployment rate like ours, id say employers can pick and choose...

  • steve.ritchie.739 - 2012-09-10 08:05

    There is just no end to the greed and culture of entitlement. There are other forces at work here using these people.

  • Paul Mphap - 2012-09-10 08:08

    eishhh, this is not gud....really....

  • arthur.salvado - 2012-09-10 08:08

    I dont agree with the violent strikes and the stay away. I is however sad to see shacks right next to very very rich mines . It is a fact that through out history, mining has always been prosperous through slavery. Please dont shut your eyes to facts. Have a proper look. These rock drillers who bring out the wealth are very poor people. Why can't the mine improve their lives. We all hear that they do this and that, but can you see it. I'd like to see all miners go back to work immediately and then proper balanced negotiations take p,ace. There must be a way forward. Wealth cannot be concentrated to a few as is worldwide. Go talk guys !!!

  • Paul Mphap - 2012-09-10 08:12

    our beautiful country is falling apart, economically.....something must be done, urgently.

  • pieter.pretorius.106 - 2012-09-10 08:34

    Maybe they should just shut the mine and let all 15,000 idiots loose their jobs. Maybe sell the mine to a BEE company like Aurora so the riches of the earth can fall in the hands of the people. That should also put everybody out of their jobs.

      abrammothothi.mamabolo - 2012-09-10 16:36

      R12500 for the miners is nothing,we also want expropriation of land,We need an act as forceful as war to bring it back to the Africans."

  • henry.denner.3 - 2012-09-10 10:34

    I am a bit bemused by the timing of this demand. I would have thought waiting for the outcome of Lonmin as the setter of a precedent would be more prudent? Perhaps they are of the opinion that management would regard the further 10 as more realistic in terms of the current Lonmin situation and might actually go for it? What are your thoughts?

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