Gold Fields negotiations due to resume
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says discussions on reopening wage negotiations with striking mineworkers will begin on Thursday.
He was addressing thousands of striking Gold Fields workers over a megaphone on a hill outside Carletonville on Wednesday night.
All chief executives of gold-producing mines would meet with Cosatu and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) at 1pm to discuss the need to reopen wage negotiations, he said to cheers.
"All that is going to happen is not because of Vavi or [NUM president Senzeni Zokwana]. The power is in the workers," he said.
Also up for discussion at the meeting were services mines were required to provide, such as clinics and schools.
Vavi told the crowd that Cosatu and the NUM had met with Gold Fields' chief executive Nick Holland earlier in the day.
They had agreed that the strikers should go back to the mine hostels and should continue their strike at a nearby soccer stadium, where they had gathered until now.
The crowd shouted that mine security would shoot them if they went back.
Vavi invited them to tell him if this happened.
He said there were conditions attached to the agreement, one of which was that the miners would not be allowed to take weapons into the stadium.
It was also agreed Gold Fields would switch on the water at the hostels and that the kitchens would work as normal.
Vavi reiterated his support for the workers and told them that if workers had to die while striking, he would die with them. "We will die together," he said.
"Employees should stay united," said Zokwana.
As the mineworkers made their way back to the hostels, some were pleased not to spend another night on the hill, and others were relieved that progress was being made in their wage negotiations.
"It's coming. The most important thing is that Gold Fields didn't want to come to the table, but at last they have convinced [Holland] to start discussions," said Senso Maphinda (31). "There is hope."
On Wednesday night, NUM announced that wage negotiations in the gold and coal mining industries would reopen under an agreement reached in a meeting in Johannesburg between the Chamber of Mines, the NUM, Solidarity and UASA.
"The chamber agreed to negotiate ... [an] increase for entry level workers, [and] adjustment or upgrading for operators, which includes rockdrill operators," spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said in a statement. – Sapa