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Johannesburg - Like any mineworker, Thabo joined thousands of striking National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) members hoping for a better wage increase.
But the father-of-two isn’t convinced the amount demanded by the union will be offered by the employer.
Thabo (not his real name) said the employers had in the past failed to meet their demands, fearing they would simply strike again the next time around.
“We want a double-digit increase, but we are not sure if we’ll get it. The employers have always refused to give in to us and nothing can stop them from doing (this) again,” he said.
Thabo is an underground miner who earns R5 500 and also receives a living-out allowance of R1 640 a month.
His monthly deductions are just under R1 000. Aside from his wife and two children, Thabo also looks after his sister and her children, who live in a backyard room of his municipal house on the West Rand.
Thabo said his wage was not enough to support his family and to travel daily to work.
He is one of almost 90 000 NUM members in the gold sector who downed tools on Tuesday night.
Even though he failed to arrive for work on Wednesday, Thabo said he felt that the wage dispute should have been resolved through a negotiated settlement.
“Some of us want to work, but we fear for our lives. We are not sure if our demands will be met,” he said.
He said he feared being dismissed while striking.
“We are currently on a warning after a dismissal last year during the national strike. It was because of the strikes that we ended up being dismissed and then later asked to sign a warning form,” he said.
“What if they kill me for coming to work? The strike is a waste of time at the end of the day. It’s a no-work, no-pay situation.
“At the end of the day, I have a family to feed and they expect me to deliver.”
The man said even though they had qualifications, they were not being taken seriously in the industry.
“We are being exposed to dangerous situations in the mines. Our lives are not safe at all,” Thabo said.
He also claimed that some of the miners were forced to take part in the strike.
Thabo said people were attacked yesterday morning while going to work, but the NUM had denied it.
NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka claimed the strike was peaceful.