CCMA ready for Lonmin talks

North West - The CCMA is on standby at Lonmin's Rustenburg operations on Tuesday to be ready should workers return to the negotiating table.

“The CCMA is on standby to commence negotiations should miners comply with the peace accord brokered last week,” said Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) spokesman Nersan Govender.

In terms of the peace accord signed last Thursday, workers must go back to work for pay talks to resume.

Attendance figures for Tuesday were at three percent, said Lonmin spokeswoman Sue Vey.

Police and mine security had been monitoring and there were no reports of trouble or violence at the mine overnight, she said.

The talks are aimed at ending a month-long strike at the mine, which employs around 28,000 people and is one of the world's largest platinum producers. Production has effectively been halted since August 10.

They were scheduled to start at noon on Monday and representatives of four unions - the National Union of Mineworkers, Uasa, Solidarity and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union were present.

A long term pay agreement had been reopened for renegotiation in the light of the events of the past month.

This includes the death of 34 people in a clash with police, and 10 others in days leading up to that.

But work attendance was only at 6.34 percent on Monday while a march by up to 5000 people took place outside.

Inside, the CCMA and representatives of the four unions waited for the representatives of a splinter group of about 3000 people to arrive.

They sent clergymen to say they would not be coming and would only return to work if their salaries were increased to R12 500.

The CCMA is now on standby for them to return.

Earlier, Barnard Mokwena, executive vice president of human capital and external affairs at Lonmin platinum mine, said the group had also complained about the venue.

“The venue cannot be used as an excuse at this stage at all. Nobody has a problem to change the venue,” Mokwena told SAfm.

It was already agreed last Thursday that wage talks would happen on Monday, he said.

“So it really baffled us when we gathered, as we had all agreed... that the delegation of employees did not show up,” said Mokwena.

“A bishop (speaking on behalf of the delegation) came later saying the workers were not aware of the meeting...

“All we got through the bishop is that the workers had no intention to come through, and also that they did not like the venue.”

According to early reports, the violence was apparently sparked by rivalry between NUM and Amcu, whose members were demanding monthly salaries of R12 500.

According to the peace accord signed last week, workers were to return to work on Monday to allow the wage talks to continue.

“Why would the venue literally keep us hostage at such a difficult moment?,” asked Mokwena.

“If they wanted a different venue, they had four days to say, 'look, we don't want the venue, change the venue to a different place'.

“They had four days to express that. Why did they have to wait four hours into the meeting to express that?”

CCMA officials would speak to Lonmin workers on Tuesday and explain to them what was happening.

“Today (Tuesday), we'll give it another go… we'll keep trying and trying and trying,” said Mokwena.

“There is no way we can resolve this situation if parties do not come to the table.”

He said no deadline had been set for the talks to be finalised. - Sapa