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NUM aware of Lonmin wage demand

Rustenburg - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) knew about Lonmin miners' wage demands a month before a violent strike at the Marikana mine, the Farlam commission of inquiry heard on Friday.

“Yes I agree with that,” NUM president Senzeni Zokwana told the hearing at the Rustenburg civic centre.

Chairperson Ian Farlam is overseeing the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into events surrounding the shooting of 34 Lonmin mineworkers in Marikana. File photo: Sapa. Credit: Sapa

He was responding to a question from Ishmael Semenya, for the police, on whether the union was aware of the wage demands by workers at Lonmin's Karee mine in July.

Semenya asked why the union did not take the initiative to get a mandate from workers, both there and at Marikana, knowing they wanted a salary increase and they were threatening to strike.

“But there was an attitude towards NUM already,” Zokwana said.

He said the attitude these workers had was that they could deal with wage negotiations on their own. They approached management and said they did not want the NUM to be involved.

“The (rock drill operators) chose to go their own route and disregard their own union.”

Zokwana said union members would usually approach the union with their mandate.

NUM would have negotiated if the environment had allowed it.

“There was no way the union could negotiate for people who didn't want it.”

On August 16 last year, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 wounded when police opened fire while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near the mine.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were hacked to death. - Sapa

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