Mineworkers walk out of negotiations

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Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini and other parties to the peace accord address the media after the signing of a peace accord at the Rustenburg Civic Centre.

Johannesburg - Lonmin mineworkers in Marikana have rejected outright the peace accord signed by the mining firm and union bosses, saying they were against many of the clauses in the document.

The workers’ rejection of the accord follows that of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which has not signed the agreement despite taking part in the talks.

Speaking after Thursday’s release of 102 mineworkers arrested during the tragic shooting that saw the deaths of 34 mineworkers in Marikana last month, the workers’ leaders said they had made it clear to all parties of the accord that they would not sign the agreement.

This contradicted what Lonmin and labour, Cosatu and trade union Solidarity, had told the media, which was that the workers had left before the signing ceremony because of their transport arrangement.

“We told them that we were not interested in signing the peace accord and that they should call us when they are ready to negotiate the R12 500 salary demand we have made.

“That is what started this strike and has resulted in all the events that have happened here since the beginning of the strike. We will return to speak to them when the talks about our salary demands begin. If they are happy with signing the accord, that’s fine, but it is really not necessary to us,” said one of the miners’ leaders, Zolisa Bodlana.

He said one of the clauses that had been rejected was the demand for workers to return to work on Monday.

“We will not return to work on Monday. The accord wants us to return to work and only then we start negotiating. The employer is not even inviting us to the table with a counter-offer to the [widely known] demand that we have made, which is the R12 500.”

The employees’ rejection of the accord is likely to raise questions over its viability, when some of the key players - Amcu and the striking workers - have rejected it.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa and treasurer Jimmy Gama cut lone figures at the signing of the peace accord, appearing defiant as parties to the peace accord addressed the media.

Mathunjwa was the first official to leave the briefing. Asked why Amcu had not signed the accord, he said: “You asked Lonmin management about why we had not signed, but the question was answered by a unionist [Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini] instead,” he said and walked away.

Dlamini admitted after the briefing that the federation was worried that Amcu and the mineworkers had not signed the accord.

“Of course we’re concerned that Amcu has not yet signed the accord, we [would] have preferred that everybody would have signed by now, but that is not the case. What is important is that we do have a document in place which lays the foundation for negotiations and creates the opportunity to stabilise the situation,” he said.

The Star


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