Platinum strike makes times tougher

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MarikanaSpaza Reuters. Daniel Waza, a convenience store or "spaza shop" owner, sits inside his shop in Nkaneng township, Marikana's informal settlement near Rustenburg, April 2, 2014. Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have downed tools at Lonmin, the main employer in the tough town of Marikana, and rivals Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum in a strike over wages, hitting 40 percent of global production. The strike has transformed bustling and crowded mining towns into ghost town-like skeletons of their former selves.

Marikana - Life is difficult in Marikana near Rustenburg in the North West since the beginning of the strike in the platinum mining sector, a resident said on Friday.

“People are hungry... A woman collapsed once. I picked her up and she told me she had not eaten for three days,” said Seipati Mmekwa.

Mmekwa runs a soup kitchen to help those in need.

She used her husband Bishop Mmekwa's pension money to start the soup kitchen.

“I started catering for 60 people at the clinic. The number has increased to over 200,” she said.

“I pray to God that the strike should end.”

Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) downed tools at Lonmin, Impala Platinum, and Anglo American Platinum on January 23 demanding a basic salary of R12,500 per month.

They rejected the companies' offer that would bring their cash remuneration to R12,500 by July 2017.

The strike has cost employees over R8 billion in earnings and the companies over R19bn in revenue, according to a website created by the companies.

Mediation talks facilitated by the labour court to end the strike, now on its 120th day, continued at an undisclosed venue in Johannesburg.

At Nkaneng informal settlement near Marikana, a defiant Lonmin worker Patrick Nkomo said he would only go back to work if he was going to be paid R12,500.

“We are pushing hard for R12,500. I do not see myself going to work without that amount. The R12,500 is the key to take me to work.”

Some way from the infamous “Marikana hill”, a woman was picking up tins to recycle.

“Times are hard. We are struggling to survive,” she said giving her name as Pearl.

She said her husband was one of the workers on strike.

“If he goes to work he will be killed.”

NGOs and humanitarian organisations continue to provide food to affected people.

Solidarity's Helping Hands has spend R700,000 to provide food for non-striking workers in Rustenburg, Brits, and Mooinooi.

The Gift of the Givers will distribute food parcels at Wonderkop Stadium on Saturday. - Sapa



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