North West - Talks to resolve a crisis at Lonmin's Marikana mine were due to resume in Rustenburg on Wednesday morning, the SA Council of Churches (SACC) said.
“Today we are meeting with the workers,” SACC president Bishop Jo Seoka, said as he was about to go into the meeting.
He has been part of a team trying to facilitate a resolution after a strike began a month ago.
In an earlier statement, Seoka, who is also chairman of the Benchmarks Foundation and the Anglican Bishop of Pretoria, implored Lonmin not to fire the workers, but to put the mine into downtime for a few months and wait for calm.
“I hear rumours that if Lonmin fired all striking workers that they would then close operations for several months, hoping that the situation will return to normal,” he said in a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon.
“This would imply that workers will return home to the Eastern Cape and Transkei and that eventually the company will be able to employ again and resume production for Lonmin.”
Seoka said the striking workers had lost their leader Mgcineni Noki, who was known as 'the man in green', or 'Mambush'.
“This needs to be considered by the (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) CCMA and, if they are not able to deal with the situation, that someone like Charles Nupen from the International Labour Organisation should be brought in to assist workers to understand the power dynamics and help them to find a way forward. Otherwise they might lose everything.”
Forty-five people have been killed in events associated with the strike since August 10. Ten people, including police and security guards, died in the week before police opened fire on protesters, killing 34 of them on August 16. On Tuesday, a body was found near where strikers had gathered outside the mine.
The strikers have said they will go back to work only if their salaries are increased to R12,500.
The CCMA confirmed it would meet the parties again on Wednesday.
On Thursday, three unions signed a peace accord in an attempt to stabilise the situation at the mine. All the parties, including the mine, agreed to reopen a wage agreement for negotiation.
A precondition for the negotiations, which were to have started on Monday, was that everyone went back to work.
This did not happen, and Lonmin has reported attendance figures of under 10 percent.
The CCMA has, nonetheless continued meeting representatives of the strikers to persuade them to comply with the peace accord.
The workers selected their own committee to represent them at the negotiations.
There has been no production at the mine, which employs around 28,000 people, since August 10. - Sapa