Lonmin: Attendance at mines to rise

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LonminMine Independent Newspapers. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya.

Johannesburg - Lonmin, the world’s third-largest platinum producer, said it expects attendance to increase once employees are confident it’s safe to report for duty.

Lonmin’s mines opened for a second day in an effort to break a 16-week strike, Happy Nkhoma, a spokesman for the Johannesburg-based company, said today by phone.

The company won’t report attendance figures, Nkhoma said.

“We expect workers will assess their own safety and assess their own confidence” about their return, Nkhoma said.

“Workers are able to report today; we didn’t hear any reports of anything sinister.”

Lonmin reopened its mines after failing to reach a wage deal with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

The labour group, the largest representative of employees at the South African operations of world’s three biggest platinum producers, halted work on January 23, starting the country’s longest and costliest mining strike.

Workers have shown they’re prepared to continue to strike, Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa said today by phone, referring to a rally yesterday of more than 5,000 people near Lonmin’s Marikana mines, where 34 protesters were killed less than two years ago by police in a single day.

“It shows the workers know what they want,” Mathunjwa said.

“If you look at the rally, it is quite clear that they’re steadfast.”

 

Facing Intimidation

 

Some non-striking miners faced intimidation for a second day today, Sydwell Dokolwana, a regional secretary for the National Union of Mineworkers, a minority labour representative at Lonmin, said by phone.

Residents living around Lonmin operations received threats by people moving door-to-door, Dokolwana said.

“If we see you in the street, you must report to us and tell us where you’re going,” Dokolwana said of the intimidation.

Police received no serious reports of violence during the night or this morning, Thulani Ngubane, a provincial spokesman for the service, said by phone.

Four people have died in violent attacks in South Africa’s platinum belt over the past week.

The Amcu wants basic monthly pay, without benefits, to be more than doubled for entry-level underground employees to 12,500 rand by 2017, while producers are including cash allowances in that figure.

 

Increased Security

 

Police have increased security in the area and will crack down on perpetrators of intimidation and violence, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said in a broadcast on eNCA news channel yesterday.

Mines idled by the strike at Impala Platinum, the second-biggest producer, remain closed.

Attendance figures at affected Anglo American Platinum operations are slowly increasing, spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said yesterday.

Amplats, as the Anglo American unit is known, is the world’s largest platinum-mining company.

The three companies have lost 17.9 billion rand in revenue because of the stoppage while employees have forfeited 8 billion rand in wages, according to a website set up by the producers.

A South African labour court will hear the Amcu’s application to stop employers from communicating directly with employees on May 20, Charmane Russell, a spokeswoman for the three producers at Russell & Associates, said by e-mail.

The companies polled workers by text message and voice mail on whether they wanted return to work after the Amcu rejected the producers’ settlement offer earlier this month. - Bloomberg News



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