Miners take heed of Malema’s anarchy call
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WITH operations at three mines at a standstill yesterday, Julius Malema’s threat to make the mines “ungovernable” seems to be taking root – whether he is there or not. Yesterday, three of the country’s biggest mines were at a standstill, with thousands of workers reiterating a growing call for a pay increase to R12 500.
Malema has been calling for mining change, saying they should be nationalised and that workers get paid a living wage. He called on them to continue striking until their demand for a R12 500 monthly salary was met.
A strike at Lonmin Platinum in Rustenburg went into its second month, with the company reporting an average 1.8 percent attendance at all its shafts yesterday.
Further afield, near Carletonville, security guards fired teargas at strikers at Gold Fields’ KDC west gold mine.
Yesterday mineworkers who embarked on an illegal strike at Anglo American Platinum mines in Rustenburg forced the company to shut down its operations in the area until further notice.
The company announced yesterday that it had suspended all its platinum operations “in order to protect the safety and security of its employees from outside intimidation”.
About 6 000 mineworkers at Anglo Platinum mines embarked on an illegal strike yesterday, demanding a basic salary of R14 500 and the closure of all the company’s shafts until this demand was met.
Hundreds of workers marched from Anglo’s Thembelani mine to its Waterval smelting plant to demand its closure, also calling on those who were working to down tools and join the strike.
About three Nyalas and a water cannon escorted marchers to Anglo’s Waterval smelting plant, while mine security secured the entrances to all the plants.
The Anglo Platinum strike follows that at Lonmin, which has seen workers staying away from work for more than a month.
Like the miners at Lonmin, Anglo miners have decided to make their demands outside the bargaining process, claiming the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) had let them down.
The miners were due to meet with striking Lonmin workers today to consolidate their strike action and pledge solidarity to each other’s strike efforts.
One of the miners’ leaders, Evans Ramokga, said the workers were demanding R14 500 basic pay, and said if Anglo would try negotiating it down, they would not settle for anything less than R12 500.
He said more than 15 000 workers were committed to the strike and would be downing tools at all shafts by yesterday. “At present we are all getting paid a basic salary of about R5 900, which is nothing after deductions. “We know very well that Anglo can afford to pay the workers what we are demanding and we know we will not get what we deserve if we continue being represented by these unions.
“We can look out for our own interests, even Amcu (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union) is not part of this action, because we do not need unions to represent us,” said Ramokga.
Ramokga said the miners were also aggrieved by the payout of housing subsidies by the mine, which was about R2 700 for workers who owned homes and R1 700 for those who didn’t.
“What this basically means is that those of us who are staying in shacks will continue living there, while others can make extensions to their houses and enjoy better subsidies.”
An organisation claiming to be involved in the co-ordination of the mine strikes in Rustenburg, the Democratic Socialist Movement, said the objective was to make sure that all the miners at the various mines in Rustenburg were united.
Yesterday, Anglo American Platinum CEO Chris Griffiths denied that their employees were on strike, saying genuine Anglo American Platinum employees wanted to work but were being intimidated.
When the Pretoria News asked the striking workers about this, they laughed off the idea, producing their employee and clock cards to prove they were genuine employees.