Johannesburg - The Economic Freedom Fighters stand in solidarity with mineworkers fighting for a living wage in the platinum mines, EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said on Tuesday.
“It is EFF policy that the minerals of the country must be in the hands of the people and benefit those who dig them out of the belly of the earth.”
The EFF supported the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union's (Amcu's) demand of a R12,500 minimum wage, as stipulated in its elections manifesto for the 2014 general elections.
“EFF believes this wage must be imposed by law as a minimum wage for all mineworkers. The leadership of the EFF will visit the mines where workers are on strike to show solidarity.”
Amcu members downed tools at Lonmin, Impala Platinum (Implats), and Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) mines in Rustenburg, North West, and at Northam in Limpopo on January 23, demanding a basic monthly salary of R12,500.
They rejected a wage offer of up to nine percent.
The companies, in return, rejected Amcu's revised demand that the R12,500 could be achieved over four years.
Talks to resolve the strike are being mediated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA).
But, the talks collapsed three weeks ago when the CCMA ruled that the parties were still too far apart.
The strike has entered its second month.
“The workers' demand of R12,500 must be seen as a historic demand for the restoration of their dignity,” said Ndlozi.
“It is a challenge of the apartheid patterns of racial abuse where it created conditions for the availability of cheap and easily disposable black labour,” he said.
The platinum mining companies said they remained open to discussions with Amcu within a reasonable settlement zone.
“The extended strike on the platinum belt is unprecedented, and at a stage where some of its impacts are becoming irreparable. These impacts are not only on the companies, but also on employees, local businesses, suppliers and on communities,” the companies said in a joint statement.
“The financial cost - now close to R10 billion in revenue lost, and around R4.4bn in earnings lost to employees - does not tell the full story.”
Amplats chief executive Chris Griffith, Implats chief executive Terence Goodlace, and Lonmin chief executive Ben Magara said mines and shafts were becoming unviable, people were hungry, children were not going to school, businesses were closing, and crime in the platinum belt was increasing.
“Overwhelmingly, we are being told by employees that they wish to return to work, and we need to collectively find a way to ensure that they are able to exercise their right to do so.”
On Monday the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu) said its 22 affiliated unions would meet in Johannesburg with a view of going into a solidarity strike to support Amcu's strike.
“Our unions are meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) to discuss a solidarity strike to back Amcu,” Nactu president Joseph Maqhekeni said.
“We want to intensify the strike. The employer is not coming up with anything even though Amcu has revised its demand to be achieved over four years.”
Amcu is an affiliate of Nactu.
“We waited, hoping the mines will come with something. Amcu has revised the demand to be achieved in four years, which in our view is fair,” Maqhekeni said. - Sapa