FILE PHOTO: A mineworkers holds up a sign during a march at Lonmin's Marikana mine in South Africa's North West Province.

Rustenburg - A splinter group of around 3000 strikers has 24 hours to join talks at Lonmin's troubled Marikana mine or the negotiators will withdraw, trade union Solidarity said on Monday.

“The workers did not return to work as per the precondition,” secretary general Gideon du Plessis said.

Solidarity was one of the four unions whose representatives arrived for Monday's scheduled pay talks.

Du Plessis said representatives of Solidarity, the National Union of Mineworkers, Uasa and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, were present to represent the bargaining unit of 23 000 workers out of a workforce 28 000. Lonmin representatives were also there.

However, the splinter group, who wanted separate representatives in their quest for an increase in their monthly salary to R12 500, failed to turn up.

Du Plessis said at first their representatives indicated they were too tired.

Then a group of clergymen arrived to say the workers had asked them to convey the message that they would not go back to their jobs until they received their R12 500 salaries.

The negotiations were to have been facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. A condition laid down for the talks to go ahead was that employees go back to work, after a month of striking.

“The end result is that the CCMA requested 24 hours to have one more meeting with the worker delegates, and they will communicate the outcome,” said Du Plessis.

“If they stay firm, the strikers and the other protesters won't return to work, then the facilitators will withdraw and the ball will be passed to the company.”

Du Plessis said the strikers' representatives, a group of nine individuals, did not all work for Lonmin. Some worked for contractors.

Earlier, a large group of strikers carrying knobkerries and sjamboks went to Lonmin's Eastern Platinum mine and called on non-strikers to join them.

Lonmin said staff attendance was at 6.34 percent on Monday.

According to a peace accord signed last Thursday, everybody was supposed to have been back at work on Monday.

On August 16, police fired on a group of protesting workers. Thirty-four died and 78 were wounded. Another 10 people were killed the preceding week, including two policemen and two security guards. - Sapa