The strike is over: Lonmin strikers accept 22% pay increase

Striking mine workers at Lonmin have accepted a 22% wage increase offer. (Paul Botes, M&G)

Striking mine workers at Lonmin have accepted a 22% wage increase offer. (Paul Botes, M&G)

Rock drillers at Lonmin's Marikana mine have accepted a 22% overall pay increase to end more than five weeks of crippling and bloody strikes.

Strikers who gathered at a soccer pitch near the Marikana mine on Tuesday cheered when they were informed of the offer and said they would return to work on Thursday.

This increases their salaries to just over R11 000. Other workers will get a 2% increase on top of the 9% increase agreed upon earlier this year.

Lonmin's Marikana mine saw intense violence in August, with 45 people dying in violence related to the strikes.

Last week the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration said it would remain on standby to help talks between strikers and management along. According to a peace accord following the violence, workers had to return to work by September 17.

At the weekend police raided a Lonmin hostel and confiscated knobkerries and pangas, arresting seven following government's call for a crackdown on the carrying of weapons. They also stopped a march against the security crackdown from taking place on Sunday.

In another sign that weeks of labour unrest in South Africa's platinum belt could be ending, world number one platinum producer Anglo American Platinum said it had resumed its operations in the strike-hit Rustenburg area.

"Anglo American Platinum Limited [Amplats] confirms that all of its Rustenburg operations have resumed, effective from today's morning shift," the company said in a statement.

On the news of the Marikana agreement, the spot platinum price fell 2% to a session low at $1 627.49 per ounce and the rand firmed against the dollar.

The wildcat mining strikes had hit the rand currency, raised insurance against default on South African debt and spooked some foreign investors into selling shares in mining companies.

The six-week conflict in the mining sector also ignited criticism against President Jacob Zuma and the ANC. They face accusations from political rivals that they have neglected poor workers and sided with wealthy business owners. – Additional reporting by Reuters

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