Business a battle even after strikers return to rock face

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BR Marikana 0189 Independent Newspapers Nivia Silver says her boss's business in Marikana has not yet improved because the Lonmin employees have not yet been paid. Some local stores have cut their hours and others have retrenched employees "until further notice". Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi

Business “is still the same” as it was during the strike for operators in Marikana, which was hard hit by the five-month platinum-belt strike that ended last month.

Small business owners told Business Report during a visit to Marikana yesterday that they hoped their profits would spike once employees received their salaries at the end of the month.

Violet Mathiba, a consultant at Money Wise, a cash loan shark in the area, said business had not improved. As a result, working hours were cut from 9am to 2pm from the usual 5pm close. “Business is still the same. We have not seen a difference since mineworkers ended the strike last month,” Mathiba said.

“Our clients have not yet serviced their debt. We have given them an option to pay over three months instead of one month. When they get paid we will see a difference.”

About 70 000 striking workers at Impala Platinum, Lonmin and Anglo American Platinum returned to work after the signing of a three-year wage agreement in which the lowest-paid worker would receive an increase of 20 percent.

The deal comprised an annual wage increase of R1 000 a month for employees whose basic wage was less than R12 500 a month for the first two years.

As part of the wage agreement, within one week of returning to work, all employees would receive backpay due to them for their increase from last year until January 22, the day prior to the strike.

Yesterday, cash-strapped Lonmin staff said they were relieved to have received R3 600 in backpay and grocery items from the firms last Tuesday.

The groceries included 2.5kg of mealie meal, 2.5kg of sugar, 750ml of oil, peanut butter and a packet of soya mince from the company, Aaron Chunguana, a Lonmin employee, said yesterday.

Chunguana, a Marikana resident, said he had spent the bulk of the money on groceries and transport to work.

“I have six children, a wife and I take care of two nieces. It was hard to send money home after we received the backpay,” said Chunguana.

Chunguana added that he had worked for Lonmin for more than 20 years and was living in a shack. He hoped that he would receive a house from the Marikana Extension 2 housing project, which was launched yesterday.

Lenny Sibanyoni, the owner of Makoya Buy and Braai, sells meat, pap and cooldrinks. He said that meat was a luxury during the strike. “About 50 percent of my earnings were wiped off during the strike. Business was tough. I had to let my assistant go until further notice,” Sibanyoni said.

“I hope that my customers will return in numbers when they receive their salaries at the end of month.


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