Lonmin strikers protest

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North West - A group of protesting Marikana mineworkers was marching from Wonderkop to Lonmin's nearby Eastern Platinum mine on Monday, in an attempt to stop operations there.

Police stopped them on the way, but after negotiations, allowed the workers - some waving knobkerries and sjamboks - to proceed.

Representatives of the workers told the police they wanted access to the mine to close down operations there.

“Mining activities at the Eastern Platinum mine have to be halted as the workers there are underpaid,” said a leader of the protesters, Anele Nogwanya.

“We have now buried all our fallen colleagues. Now is the time to honour our promise to them of getting the R12 500,” he said.

“If we go back to work without getting R12,500, our deceased colleagues will turn against us.”

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

Lonmin said staff attendance was 6.34 percent on Monday, ahead of wage talks, which were expected to begin at noon.

One of the conditions of a peace deal signed on Thursday was that the workforce return on Monday.

“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, which is considered one of the world's largest producers of platinum group metals, loses around 2500 platinum ounces per day of no production.

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.

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 the tone of Monday's talks would be an indication of what the last few weeks had been about.

“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. - Sapa


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