Amcu: We are not violent

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Reuters.

Cape Town - Amcu leaders on Thursday again defended the union as peaceful amid an ongoing platinum mining sector strike that has been marred by violence and intimidation.

“We know that even with no strike, people get killed and people are dying. Houses are burning. Amcu is a peaceful union,” said Rustenburg Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) shop steward Jacob Khoza.

He and two other mineworker leaders were addressing the Cape Town Press Club as part of a Marikana Support Group tour to influential people and groups in the city.

Khoza's fellow shop steward Ramasela Etsang said: “We are not condoning any violence. For those who are saying we killed people there, it is a lie.”

Etsang said the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) strike was legal and its members would not do anything illegal.

Molefe Phele, from Lonmin's troubled Marikana mine, said violence was common in the country. It was inaccurate for anyone to suggest that because they were striking, rival union members would kill and intimidate each other.

“There is no such thing. Other unions like NUM (National Union of Mineworkers) must go and report for duty,” Phele said.

“We are not intimidating people. We are free. It is our right to strike and it is their right to go to work.”

Amcu members at Lonmin, Impala Platinum, and Amplats downed tools on January 23, demanding a basic monthly salary of R12,500.

The strike has led to the death of at least five mineworkers.

Phele said people did not seem to realise that workers risked dying every time they went underground.

“We are working under bad conditions. There is dust there. We are working under rocks. If those rocks fall, we are dead.”

He, Khoza, and Etsang agreed that workers needed to benefit from national resources and earn enough to survive. The strike would not end until workers were satisfied these conditions had been met.

“They are not turning back. They are not going to bow down,” said Khoza.

“If there is no R12,500, then let us nationalise the mines so we can benefit from our minerals.”

Earlier, Amcu negotiator Brian Ashley said media houses were incorrectly suggesting that the union would not budge on its wage demand.

“I have to say to you that is completely false. We have been putting forward several different proposals as tests to where we can go (to see) how we can find each other,” he said.

Ashley has been part of the labour court-facilitated talks in Johannesburg.

He claimed platinum companies were negotiating in bad faith and might be guilty of tax and wage evasion.

“We think that this has got to do with the process of transfer pricing or worse, mis-invoicing, which is an illegal offence.”

He claimed mining companies could be moving part of their profits to countries with low or no tax on profits to escape tax and avoid paying higher wages.

His suspicions were based on a comparison of the companies' annual reports and annual market prices of mineral resources.

“We still have to put all the dots together to get to the absolute conviction that what we are dealing with is tax evasion, capital flight, and wage evasion.”

Ashley said further information would be released at a press briefing in Johannesburg on Monday. - Sapa


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