Platinum miners weigh wage offer

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IOL pic apr25 platinum strike Reuters Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa (centre, green shirt) joins striking miners in song after addressing them outside a Lonmin mine in Rustenburg. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

 Marikana - Platinum mineworkers on Sunday, reacted with mixed feelings to the proposed wage settlement in the sector.

“The R1000 increase is better. In fact it is the highest in the history of the mining industry in South Africa,” said Lonmin worker, Thapelo Marekoloane.

He said the settlement meant in three years a basic salary would be increased by R2950.

“This is the best ever increase in the industry. This is worth celebrating,” he said.

However, Mike Mukhumavela said he felt the mineworkers gave up too soon to push for a basic monthly salary of R12 500.

“The spirit was R12 500 nothing else. This R1000 means we lost the fight,” he said.

“We starved for five months only to take a R1000 (sic). This is not good enough.”

He said the workers were put in a tight corner and could no longer differentiate between a decent offer and a bad one.

“Hunger pushes people to blink. I believe the companies were in panic mode and were about to give in to our demand but workers lost hope and fell into the employers' trap.”

Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) at Impala, Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin went on strike on January 23 for a basic monthly salary of R12 500.

Platinum producers proposed to increase the salary of the lowest paid worker by R1000 for two years and R950 in the third year.

This excluded other benefits.

The salary of officials, artisans and miners would increase by eight percent in the first year and by 7,5 percent for the remaining two years.

Living out allowance would not be increased for the duration of the settlement.

Pension fund contributions, overtime, holiday leave and shift allowances would be increased annually based on the consumer price index (CPI).

The companies promised to pay backpay due to workers within seven working days of return to work.

The backpay was for the period prior to the strike.

If the settlement is signed it would end the five-month long strike.

The proposed settlement was for three years.

Hawkers around Marikana said the end of the strike meant a boom to their businesses.

“I will be able to do better than now,” said Ankie Meremegolo from her stall next to the Marikana road.

She sells vegetables, fruit and boiled eggs.

“The problem now is money. In the first week after the strike I will not be able to meet the demand of clients because I do not have money for stock,” she said.

Meremegolo said her business declined in February a month after the strike started.

“I hope it takes only two weeks to recover. We have suffered a lot during the strike.” - Sapa



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