Some returns to work, others strike
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Johannesburg - Platinum producer Lonmin on Wednesday declined to say how many of its employees had returned to work in the platinum belt in the North West, maintaining it was “a process”.
“We are not going to be providing a blow-by-blow insight of the number of people returning because that's what incites violence,” spokeswoman Sue Vey told Sapa.
“It is a process. People are returning to work but there has been intimidation.”
She could not provide details.
Lonmin had warned that it may implement restructuring that could lead to job losses if striking mineworkers failed to return to work on Wednesday.
The company set Wednesday as the deadline for employees to end the almost four-month-old strike.
The deadline did not apply to Impala Platinum and Anglo-American Platinum workers.
Implats spokeswoman Alice Lourens said: “Our operations are still closed. That only applies to one company, and it's not us.”
Amplats spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole could not be reached for comment.
North West premier Thandi Modise called for calm in the area.
“Parties involved in the... wage dispute in the platinum belt should act responsibly to avoid violent confrontations at all costs,” she said in a statement.
“Resorting to threats of dismissals, court actions and mobilising for intensified intimidation and violence against non-striking workers and those who wish to return to work... will only serve to exacerbate the already volatile situation that demands urgent responsible action.”
Earlier, North West police said the SA Police Service began escorting buses to mines as some striking miners returned to work.
“We are escorting buses that are transporting workers to work, those who want to go back to work, and protecting people,” Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said.
“Everything is in place. Police are out and about doing their work.”
Around midday he could not be reached for an update.
Meanwhile, around 5000 defiant miners gathered at the Wonderkop Stadium at Marikana, near Rustenburg, on Wednesday, refusing to return to work.
Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) at Lonmin, Implats, and Amplats in Rustenburg and at Northam in Limpopo downed tools on January 23 demanding a basic monthly salary of R12,500.
The strike has cost the companies over R17.8 billion in revenue and workers have lost more than R7.9bn in earnings, according to figures on www.platinumwagenegotiations.co.za.
Fears of friction between strikers and miners wishing to return to work arose when Amcu objected to employers approaching miners with their wage offer directly in a bid to end the strike.
On Monday, police said three miners were killed and six others stabbed while on their way to work.
A 60-year-old miner had been stabbed to death, another miner died after being set alight, and a third mineworker and his wife were strangled to death. - Sapa