Striking miners gather in Johannesburg to hear an update from Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa on March 27, 2014. File picture: Reuters

Marikana - The mining industry will never be the same again, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) said on Thursday.

“Amcu makes a difference. We want better lives,” said union leader Joseph Mathunjwa.

He was in the platinum belt to brief union members about a proposed wage agreement which if accepted would end their 21-week long strike.

Union members at Lonmin, Impala and Anglo American Platinum have been on strike since January 23, demanding a basic monthly salary of R12,500.

They have rejected the companies' offer that would bring their cash remuneration to R12, 500 by July 2017.

Union members have now mandated Mathunjwa to accept a R1000 wage increase for the A and B band over three years.

“This means when you return to work you will have a new basic salary,” he said to the applause of the crowd which had been patiently waiting for him since 2pm.

The increase for artisans and officials would be eight percent in the first year and the increase in the remaining two years would be 7.5 percent each year.

“Considering from where we come from, we commend our president to accept the offer on condition that 235 essential services workers dismissed at Lonmin are reinstated unconditionally,” said one shop steward after the proposed settlement was read to workers at Wonderkop stadium.

He said the company initially offered R800 and now had topped it up by R200.

“It is better than the R400 which National Union of Mineworkers have signed for its members.”

Another shop steward asked Mathunjwa to tell Lonmin to increase the living-out allowance, saying that housing was expensive.

In term of the proposed agreement, the living-out allowance would not increase for the duration of the agreement.

Mathunjwa was well received when he arrived at Wonderkop Stadium near Marikana.

About 5000 union members rose and others formed a guard of honour when he arrived just before 6pm.

He was flanked by union treasurer Jimmy Gama and the president of the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu), Joseph Maqhekeni.

Maqhekeni told the crowd that workers internationally supported their strike over a living wage.

Mathunjwa told the workers that the strike would continue until an agreement was signed.