Lonmin attendance on the increase

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Johannesburg - Early attendance figures at Lonmin's shafts crept up to 6.34 percent on Monday, while police reported all was quiet around the Marikana mine ahead of a fresh round of pay talks.

“Attendance today is 6.34 percent,” said spokeswoman Sue Vey, after a slow start of just over two percent earlier.

Only one shift - the 7am - was running across the 11 shafts of the Marikana complex, which includes Eastern Platinum Ltd and Western Platinum Ltd.

The company, considered one of the world's largest producers of platinum group metals, loses around 2 500 platinum ounces per day of no production.

In terms of a peace accord signed last week, employees were expected to return to work on Monday, and talks between the company and unions were to resume at noon. Work stopped at the mine on August 10.

Earlier, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which did not sign the accord, said it would participate in Monday's negotiations, but could not guarantee that its members would return to work.

Its president Joseph Mathunjwa told the SABC: “I am not in the position to answer that one [if workers will return to work on Monday morning], but what I know is that we have been invited for the process of the CCMA [Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration] this morning.”

“I have not spoken to any person in Marikana. I am not sure if workers will turn up for work.”

Mathunjwa said Amcu would attend Monday's wage talks with a “clear mind”, but wanted to know its status at the meeting.

“We have to know today what is our status in the proceedings. The minister Mildred Olifant was very clear that we will be there in observer status.”

He said he expected the meeting to revolve around the workers' R12 500 salary increase demand.

The National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity, UASA and Lonmin management agreed to the peace accord early on Thursday morning to level the ground for wage negotiations.

Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis said it was encouraging workers to return to work.

“We encourage our members to go to work because Lonmin needs every single person now,” said Du Plessis.

It was a difficult situation for the workers, because on the one hand, their physical safety and job security was on the line, while on the other Lonmin's future was at stake.

The tone of Monday's talks would be an indication of what the last few weeks had been about, said Du Plessis.

Workers who did report for work would be paid. When they were there, supervisors would decide whether there were enough people to run the various sections.

“If they commence negotiations, we will know it's about the wage dispute. If they carry on with intimidation and unlawful gatherings, there is a lot more to it,” he said.

On Thursday, Lonmin said the company and the unions had agreed to invite Amcu and the workers' representatives to participate in wage negotiations.

On August 16, police opened fire on a group of striking workers, killing 34 of them and wounding 78. In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed.

Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said on Monday that there were no protesters gathered at the mine and all was quiet.

Police were prepared for a protest, or a march between the Marikana mine and nearby Karee mine if it took place, he said.

Sapa


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