Pretoria - Platinum mining companies are paying their chief executive officers 199 times more than they are paying mineworkers, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu ) said on Thursday.
“The CEO of Lonmin, Ben Magara, was paid R6 million; Impala paid its former CEO, David Brown, R13 million; and, Anglo American Platinum paid its CEO, Chris Griffith, R17,6 million in 2013,” union president Joseph Mathunjwa told members at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
Amcu members braved the scorching sun to hand over a petition addressed to President Jacob Zuma.
The petition raised their unhappiness about how government departments and mining companies have handled their strike.
“Comrades, the mines can afford the R12,500 demand. We started with a year, and now we are saying the demand must be achieved in four years. Still they refused. What do they want?” he asked the applauding crowd.
Amcu have been on a strike since January 23, demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500.
The union rejected the employers' offer for an increase of nine percent.
The employers have rejected the union's revised demand, saying it is unaffordable and amounts to a 30 percent increase.
Amcu revised its demand on Tuesday, stating that the R12 500 demand could now be achieved over four years.
Talks to resolved the strike stalled on Tuesday, when the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) ruled that the parties were too far apart.
Mathunjwa said workers themselves would decide when the strike would end.
“The members will decide about the strike,” he told reporters, pointing to hundreds of his union's members.
Platinum producers, through the Chamber of Mines, said they were open to further negotiation within a feasible settlement zone.
“We remain committed to negotiating within our settlement zone, and in good faith, and look forward to further engagement as soon as the union is willing to do so on this basis,” said Elize Strydom.
In the petition, the union said state resources and power have been used to destabilise it.
“The police have been used to harass Amcu members through unlawful arrests on questionable charges,” said Mathunjwa.
He said police had trampled on the rights of Amcu members, and he called for the resignation of North West police commissioner Lt-Gen Zukiswa Mbombo.
“The commissioner failed to execute her task... Through her incompetence, our members have been killed and arrested.”
He said the Mine Crime Combating Forum (MCCF) was one where authorities discussed which of the union leaders should be arrested, and how they should they be trailed.
“In all these cases they appear in the Tlhabane Magistrate's Court, regardless of the area in which the alleged offence occurred... We want the forum to be disbanded.”
He said two union leaders in Rustenburg, charged with murder, were still in custody because a magistrate refused to preside over their bail application.
“In Limpopo, a policeman shot dead a worker. That policeman is out on a R5 00 bail. Our members are in custody on (trumped-up) charges.”
He called on Zuma to order his ministers not to harass his union, and not to work with mining companies against it.
“We are in a protected strike... The minister of (mineral resources) advised mines to take us to court and dismiss workers. We want a new (mineral resources) minister.”
He said Amcu members were aggrieved by what he called government attempts to have Amcu disband, and the department of labour's “trying all avenues” to de-register the union.
“This is happening at the middle of the biggest protected strike... The department is helping the companies to resolve the strike,” he said.
Amcu bussed its members from Free State, Limpopo and North West to Pretoria to participate in the march.
Marchers wielding umbrellas and blowing vuvuzelas and whistles marched along Struben, Steve Biko and Madiba streets to the Union Buildings.
The union says Zuma has until March 20 to respond to the petition.
Senior presidency official Shaun Phillips received the petition on behalf of Zuma.
After it was handed over, union members sang union songs while waiting for their buses. Others went to take cellphone pictures of former state president Nelson Mandela's statue at the Union Buildings.