More platinum miners join strike action!


MORE South African platinum miners came out on strike yesterday at the Royal Bafokeng Platinum mine outside Rustenburg, in the North West.

They gathered at the main entrance of the mine’s shaft, on strike in support of their demand for a wage increase.

Their colleagues at the Marikana platinum mine in the Rustenburg district, where 34 miners were shot dead by the police last Thursday, continued their strike action.

More than 1,000 of the Bafokeng miners have terminated their membership of the National Union of Mineworkers and appointed seven of their colleagues to negotiate on their behalf. They are now demanding direct salary negotiations with the mine management.

Thousands of miners fighting for a pay rise have left the NUM, accusing it of having too close ties to the bosses and the government, and have joined the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which is demanding recognition agreements at the mines.

The world’s No. 1 platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), said on Wednesday it has also received a wage-increase demand from workers.

Amplats spokesperson Mpumi Sithole said the formal demand was handed in by workers, rather than by union representatives, at the Thembelani mine near Rustenburg. ‘We have until Friday and we will be getting back to them by then,’ he said.

Alternating pleas with threats, the London-based Lonmin (formerly Lonrho) management at Marikana have failed to breach the resolve of the 3,000 striking rockdrillers.

Earlier threats to sack the striking Marikana miners have been temporarily withdrawn.

A company spokesman said: ‘In consultation with ministers and unions, Lonmin agrees that no disciplinary action will be taken against those unlawfully away from work who do not return this week.

‘However, all parties are also agreed that the interests of employees, the wider economy and the company are best served by a return to work and they call on those striking to do that.’

Operations at Lonmin, which is the world’s third-largest platinum producer, have been stalled since rock drill operators embarked on their strike a week-and-a-half ago.

Mine managers, church leaders and government officials are trying to negotiate with the strikers to persuade them to return to work.

A memorial service will be held for the victims of Lonmin mine’s Marikana shootings today at the Johannesburg City Hall at 2pm.

The 3,000 striking rock drillers are demanding their wages be raised from 4,000 rand (£306) a month to 12,500 rand a month.

In comparison, Lonmin’s chief executive Ian Farmer, who is said to have been admitted to hospital with ‘serious illness’ since the start of the strike, collected pay and bonuses of £1.2 million last year.

• A general strike will be on the cards in South Africa if the provincial Department of Education does not reconsider its proposals to close 27 schools, Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich says.

He said COSATU had filed a Section 77 notice with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) to compel the department to meet it yesterday morning.

The notice paves the way for a legal strike if talks fail between Nedlac partners – labour, government and business.