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Vavi: Review all minimum wage agreements

Sapa

The Congress of SA Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has called for a review of all minimum wage agreements.

Zwelinzima Vavi says workers should be paid according to the jobs they are doing. (Gallo)

He said on Saturday that workers should be paid according to the jobs they are doing. "Rock drill operators must be paid well, [because] their job is demanding – they must be rewarded."

Vavi was addressing a Cosatu rally at Olympia Park Stadium in Rustenburg.

He said, in the future, Cosatu would not negotiate based on percentages. "We want money, and not percentages," he said.

Vavi said the rally was meant to unite workers. "We want you to be united. Do not fight back. Forgive those who attacked us this morning, they will kill us today and regret the following day. "

Vavi said a group of disgruntled mine workers who had attempted to block the rally was being misled by people with political ambitions. "They want to keep workers on a strike until they lead a march to the Union Building."

He said the group would one day see that they had been led into a hole. "Those people do not care about the 30 000 workers dismissed, they do not care whether the number doubled to 60 000. They cannot sit at negotiation tables to speak for the workers. It is us who clean their mess."

He said Cosatu and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have negotiated with Anglo American Platinum to reinstate all the 12 000 workers fired after they failed to appear in a disciplinary hearing. "It is us who talked to Amplats. They will get a once off bonus of R2 000 and can make an advance of R2 500."

Earlier, SA Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Blade Nzimande thanked Cosatu members at the rally for their discipline when the group of disgruntled mineworkers charged at members.

"What I have seen is an extreme act of provocation. The police did well to disperse them," he said. "I am interested to see how the media will report this."

Nzimande said the SACP would not allow NUM to be destroyed as it was the only union capable of representing mineworkers in SA.

The stadium was relatively empty after a large number of Cosatu members ran away when police were dispersing striking workers who opposed the rally.

The group wore black T-shirts and said they would not return to work until their salary demands were met.

Tshepang Moloi, a member of the Rustenburg Strike Committee said they were invited to the rally as workers and they wanted to give Vavi a message, that they did not want the National Union of Mineworkers.

Moloi said they politely asked Cosatu members to take off their T-shirts. "We burnt the T-shirts afterwards, no one was assaulted," he said.

The national co-ordinator of the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood, and Allied Workers Union (Ceppawu) Billy Zulu was rescued by journalists from a mob attacking him. He sustained a deep wound on his head.

NUM secretary Frans Baleni said one of the NUM shop stewards was severely beaten and was admitted to hospital with head injuries.

North West police said one person was slightly injured and seven have been arrested for unlawful gathering.

Colonel Emelda Setlhako said police used stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd of about 400 people who were attempting to disrupt the rally.

She said the police would maintain a high visibility in the area and continue to monitor the situation.

Cosatu also presented a memorandum to be handed over to the government, Amplats, and Impala.

Cosatu demanded the opening of negotiations to deal with the remuneration and conditions of workers in the mining industry, the protection and end of intimidation to workers willing to report for duty.

Cosatu also demanded that North West premier Thandi Modise release the Special Investigations Unit report on the 23 municipalities and forensic reports of six provincial government departments investigated by former premier Maureen Modiselle.

The federation demanded answers within 14 days for issues they raised in the memorandum.

The rally continued uninterrupted.

At the end of the rally Cosatu North West secretary Solly Phetoe warned the crowd not to walk alone as the disgruntled mineworkers were hiding along the way to attack them. "Do not walk alone, be in a group. They are waiting in the bushes somewhere, Do not leave before the police indicate that it is safe."

A police helicopter circled above while police nyalas were escorting the crowd out of the stadium.  – Sapa

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