Business

Platinum wage protest spreads to Bafokeng

Sapa-AFP

About 600 workers have downed tools to demand higher wages at the Royal Bafokeng Platinum Mine, near the Lonmin mine where 44 people died last week.

Striking workers at Lonmin's Marikana mine. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Rockdrill operators, the same workers who led the Lonmin strike, gathered peacefully at the mine to demand a wage increase as a handful of police stood by, an Agence France-Presse photographer said.

Royal Bafokeng spokesperson Kea Kalebe said the protest was confined to one shaft, and that the company was still ascertaining the miners' demands.

"We are still trying to establish the facts, the situation is calm, they were singing and we are obviously monitoring the situation," she said.

Johannesburg-listed Royal Bafokeng Platinum is controlled by the Bafokeng tribe's investment company.

Business Day reported that workers at AngloAmerican Platinum's Thembelani mine, located in the same region, have also demanded a salary hike.

The demands at both mines appear to be led by rock drill operators calling for a monthly wage of R12 500 a month.

The rock drillers tell reporters they earn about R4 000 a month, but the industry and the main National Union of Mineworkers say their total compensation is about R11 000.

Similar wage demands were at the root of the illegal strike at Lonmin that began on August 10. Clashes between the protesters and non-strikers left 10 dead before police were called in, resulting in last Thursday's crackdown when police gunned down 34 people. – Sapa-AFP

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