CCMA meets Lonmin workers

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IOL pic sep11 lonmin marchers Reuters Striking miners take part in a march at Lonmin's Marikana mine, in the North West province, on Monday as police officers keep watch from armoured vehicles.

Rustenburg - The Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration met employee representatives in Rustenburg on Tuesday, as a strike at Lonmin entered its second month.

“A meeting was held with the employee delegation (accompanied by the clergy) at the CCMA offices in Rustenburg. At this stage we cannot confirm the contents of the meeting,” said CCMA spokesman Nersan Govender.

This followed an aborted attempt at wage negotiations on Monday, when just under seven percent of workers reported for work.

Under a peace accord signed by three unions representing some of the 28 000 employees at the platinum mine last week, it was agreed that wage negotiations would be re-opened, but only if workers returned to work.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) did not sign the accord, but did arrive for wage talks on Monday.

Its representatives waited in vain, with the National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity, UASA, and Lonmin representatives for representatives of a splinter group of workers to arrive.

While they waited up to 5000 people protested outside the mine.

Anglican bishop Joe Seoka delivered a message on behalf of the striking workers.

Solidarity deputy general secretary Gideon du Plessis said the unions and the mine were told that the workers would return to work only when their pay was increased to R12 500.

On Tuesday, Lonmin said the signatories to the accord and Amcu had asked the CCMA to speak to the striking workers and impress on them the need for negotiations within the framework of the law.

Lonmin also condemned “the ongoing intimidation and threats to life and property”.

“No business can operate in an environment where threats and intimidation are the order of the day.

“The continuing efforts of a minority to keep the mine closed through threats of violence now pose a real and significant threat to jobs.

“Lonmin urges those on strike to negotiate their demands peacefully and lawfully,” it said.

On Tuesday three percent of the workforce clocked in. The company received phone calls and e-mails from employees who said they were being intimidated and did not feel safe enough to come to work.

The company said it was committed to resolving the situation within the confines of the law.

Meanwhile, strikers were admonished by one of their leaders on Tuesday for fighting about food aid being provided by the humanitarian organisation, Gift of the Givers.

“Workers, let us not allow food donations to make us lose our battle of R12 500. We appreciate donations, but the commotion I saw yesterday (Monday) was disappointing,” said Goodwell Jozane.

He was addressing mineworkers gathered in an open space near the Wonderkop hill, where 34 people died when police opened fire on them last month.

Over a public address system, he asked the aggrieved workers to queue in batches of 40 at a time to avoid commotion when the aid trucks arrived.

“Yesterday, we couldn't even address you after (getting) food because of what you were doing,” Jozane said.

Gift of the Givers' trucks were expected in the area in the afternoon.

Earlier, Du Plessis said workers faced grave financial difficulty when on strike.

Their budget was not only based on their basic salaries, but on the shift and team bonuses they received when they were working.

They would have to call their creditors to explain the situation and would probably receive some sympathy and allowances in terms of not being able to pay their bills.

He said the Gift of the Givers' donations of food were adding momentum to the strike.

Customarily, strikers returned to the negotiating table when they could not pay bills or buy food, he said.

Meanwhile, the striking Lonmin mineworkers gathered at an open space in Marikana from all directions on Tuesday morning for another day of protest in demand of a R12 500 monthly wage.

Some wielded pangas, arrows, sickles, knobkerries and golf clubs, and they used umbrellas to shield themselves from the scorching Rustenburg sun. - Sapa


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