Show up or get sacked, workers told

2012-08-20 11:59

Johannesburg - Just over a quarter of workers had returned on Monday to the platinum mine in South Africa where 44 men were killed last week in violent clashes, after mine owner Lonmin threatened to sack about 3 000 striking workers if they did not turn up.

“Attendance has started slowly but is now up to 27%. But it is unclear if the striking workers are returning,” a Lonmin  spokesperson told Reuters. About 3 000 striking workers at the world’s No.3 platinum producer face an ultimatum to show up on Monday or be sacked.

A panel of investigators appointed by President Jacob Zuma is also expected at the sprawling Marikana mine about 100 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg, where 34 miners armed with spears, machetes and handguns were gunned down in a hail of police fire that brought back memories of apartheid-era violence.

Ten people were killed prior to the police shooting, including a shop steward from the National Union of Mineworkers (Num), who was hacked to death.

Police spokesperson Dennis Adriao said there had been no reported incidents on Monday morning.

“There is a high police presence and visibility,” he said.

The strike was sparked by a spreading battle for membership between the Num and the upstart Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which has accused the Num of caring more about politics and personal enrichment than workers in mine shafts.

Hundreds of police have camped out at the mine, patrolling in small convoys of vehicles and conducting aerial surveillance by helicopter.

Zuma also declared a national week of mourning to remember those killed in the mine violence.

Union leaders have also said they were not sure if the striking workers would report to the shafts.

London-based Lonmin, which accounts for 12% of global platinum output, was forced last week to freeze mining as a result of the violence, but essential services such as ventilation have been maintained so the mines can quickly restart.

Company officials could not immediately say when ore would start coming out of the earth again.

The stoppage has driven the platinum price to six-week highs over $1 460 an ounce, but much of the industry remains unprofitable at a time when it is grappling with a wave of labour unrest.

Lonmin had already slashed spending plans before the latest flare-up of violence and may miss its annual production target of 750,000 ounces.

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  • bennie.kruger.5 - 2012-08-20 12:09

    ANC is flawed , cannot be the Boss and the Employee at the same time - time to make decissions.

  • shirley.steenkamp - 2012-08-20 12:10

    About time some ultimatums were set! There are plenty of people who want to work! Have none of these strikers heard of sitting down and negotiating like normal people? I guess its too much to expect them to realise that this has effected the economy severely and will continue to affect foreign investment,so its not just "their" jobs at stake!

  • eddy.deepfield - 2012-08-20 12:13

    In today's economic climate it is wise to protect your income by keeping your job secure. A job is a privilege not a right. Don't believe trade unions or politicians who do not pay your salary. They will lie to you and promise the earth just to get your money and allegiance. Your employer pays you and it is your employer that you must impress, no one else. If you are not satisfied with your salary study further and look for a higher paying job. Nobody owes you a living. Life is tough, get used to it.

  • vdncube - 2012-08-20 12:27

    It is sad to see such things being racialised. These workers are not considered skilled, maybe Lonmin should help them attain skill and also help them with education and living expenses, then the 'low' salaries would be justified, as for R12 500, that does not seem reasonable to me. Furthermore, they should expose the miners involved in killing people earlier and fire and prosecute them before any changes to wages are made

      colin.langley - 2012-08-20 13:52

      I agree bro...I grew up on a mine and went down with my father is grueling dangerous work and the conditions are horrendous and those conditions don't discriminate. I saw white and black working together in a hole deep in the ground. And seriously...4 grand a month? I bet if you ask one of the negative people who comment here to go work there for a month i think they would demand 24000 a month!

      malette.snyman - 2012-08-21 15:09

      Yes bearpup but did you go hack people to death, set them alight in their cars, shoot at police, etc. to show your unhappiness? Only criminals do that.

  • Klaus - 2012-08-20 12:51

    dee.980 - as price for mineral / metals is set somewhere else, perhaps it would be a good idea for You, to sell these commodities at a higher price, so as to pay wages / salaries those people demand, Please apply, they are waiting for you

  • rowan.maulson - 2012-08-20 13:18

    Finally, this should have happened on day 1 of this "Strike"..

  • Beany Gwai - 2012-08-20 13:19

    It's sad how ppl who r black conscious r missing the point here.It ain't wrong 2 strike..wat is wrong is 2 threeaten other ppl who still luv deir jobs so much.I luv my black ppl s well,Bt dt doesn't mean I'll suppoort their wrongdoings.Y shud I b killed 4 goin 2 work If ppl dn't wanna go there?No 1 is saying anything abt da 2 killed Police..rn't they humans?r they dogs?dn't they hv families?pls guys..ha.a,wat abt da other 10 who were killed 4 goin 2 work?were da strikers right by killing those?n as 4 living in da squatters..those ppl r gettin R1800 living out allowance..mayB they can use dt 2 get proper places 2 stay in.I understand da working conditions..Bt R12500 is way too much 4 their job..they also get da R4000 bonuses 4 reaching targets leave da racial part out of this pls bana ba ntate

  • lee.theron.9 - 2012-08-20 15:20

    Andile, it's not that those that earn that amount are happy, its just that times are hard these days and so we have to be greatful even earning a salary considering many have no jobs at all and people like us pay more and more to the Government because they too are running out of spending money for themselves instead of using it for what it's meant to be used for.

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