Union tells Lonmin miners to return to work

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LonminMasses Reuters. The mining community looks on as they are addressed by their leaders during a strike at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg, 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, May 14, 2013. South African workers of world No. 3 platinum producer Lonmin launched a wildcat strike on Tuesday, halting all of the company's mine operations and reigniting fears of deadly unrest that rocked the industry last year. The platinum belt towns of Rustenburg and Marikana, which saw violent strikes at Lonmin and other platinum producers last year, are a flashpoint of labour strife with tensions running high over looming job cuts and wage talks.

Rustenburg - The main union behind a two-day strike at Lonmin's South African operations told workers to return to their posts from Wednesday's night shift.

A representative from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) gave the directive at a union rally in the platinum belt town of Rustenburg, near the Lonmin mines.

Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa held a meeting with the workers and told them to return to work.

“There are channels to be followed... go back to work so that your enemies will not take advantage of this situation,” Mathunjwa told the workers gathered at nearby Wonderkop stadium.

Miners would start reporting for work for the 6pm shift on Wenesday night, he said.

Workers associated with Amcu downed tools on Tuesday, demanding the immediate closure of the National Union of Mineworkers' offices at Lonmin.

Mathunjwa said there was a case at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on the dispute over the recognition of Amcu as majority union at Lonmin.

He said: “I am going to the CCMA tomorrow (Thursday) where a final decision will be made as to who is the boss at Lonmin.”

As much as workers were angered by the murder of the union's North West regional organiser Mawethu Steven, they should not “make his death in vain.

“We loved Steven. He fought for our rights. Let's go back (to work) to honour him.”

Mathunjwa said Amcu leaders were being hunted down “like dogs.”

He urged workers to not give in to any threats or intimidation.

“Do not let NUM confuse you... do not allow them to be a stumbling block on your way, our destination cannot be determined by individuals.”

He told the cheering workers even if he could be killed “the spirit will live to take Amcu forward”.

“No amount of fear will shake me... my destiny will never be determined by individuals; only God will determine my destination.”

He warned the workers that the road ahead would be difficult and they “needed to be brave to withstand the challenges”.

The workers would gather at Karee stadium on Thursday for a memorial service for Steven.

They would also receive feedback from negotiations at the CCMA.

Last year, 44 people were killed during a wage-related strike at Marikana.

They included 34 people shot dead by the police on August 16, and 10 people - including two policemen and two security guards - killed the preceding week. - Sapa and Reuters


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