(File image) The Lonmin mine near Rustenburg, South Africa.

Johannesburg - Monday's scheduled talks at Lonmin will clarify whether a dispute about rock-drill operators' pay is the real reason behind the strike and related violence at the platinum mine's Marikana operations, trade union Solidarity said on Monday.

Since August 10, when the strike started, there was speculation that the violence at Lonmin was due to union rivalry, or politically motivated.

“Questions also arose about whether many of the striking workers and their representatives are, in fact, employees of Lonmin and whether the majority of them are, indeed, rock-drill operators,” said Gideon du Plessis, general secretary of Solidarity.

If the workers returned to their posts on Monday in accordance with the peace accord signed by three unions last Thursday, and if protesters who were not Lonmin employees withdrew from the strike, allowing wage talks to start, the protest was then only about wages “which may well be resolved”, he said.

“If the wildcat strike, the illegal protest action and the accompanying intimidation continue today in spite of the opportunity to resolve the dispute by means of wage negotiations, then this violent protest action clearly has a more deep-seated cause and therefore will be difficult to resolve through wage negotiations.”

As talks were due to start, around 3 000 people marched towards the company Eastern Platinum division from Wonderkop, outside Rustenburg.

Lonmin said earlier that 6.34 percent of its workforce had reported for the 7am shift.

The National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity and Uasa signed the peace accord.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) said it did not sign the accord because it was not party to the violence.

From August 10, 10 people died and then on August 16, 34 were shot dead during a clash with police on a hill near the mine.