Day 50 for the longest strike in mine history

The Rustenburg Platinum Refinery has been the site of a bitter strike between workers and JCL management. Workers have been on strike for the better part of this year, demanding a wage increase, recognition of days significant to them and maternity leave. The management has remain adamant that it is not prepared to concede to the workers who are organized under the National Union of Mineworkers. While unions representing skilled workers settled for management's offer of 14,5 percent earlier in the dispute, the NUM branch – which represents a majority at the plant – has held to its demand of a 22 percent increase across the board.

NUM is also demanding Soweto Day, June 16 and Sharpeville Day, March 21 as paid holidays. A provident fund has also been demanded, and maternity leave on behalf of two women members of the work force. While management has agreed to discuss the question of the provident fund, workers claim they have also indicated that it will not be possible to meet this demand. According to the Bruce Theoeng, chairperson of the NUM branch in Rustenberg, 547 workers remain on strike. Management disputes this claim and puts the number of striking workers at less than 500.

JCL management this week told the Weekly Mail they will not compromise with the NUM on a wage offer, as other unions have already accepted the 14,5 percent increase. Management also will not concede to the demand for maternity leave. The strike has also been characterized by great hardships for the workers, who staged a sleep-in in an unroofed area of the factory to demonstrate their determination. Workers alleged their access to food was cut off and that they had to go without food for some days.

Management told the Weekly Mail workers were at all times free to leave and return to the plant in-between shifts. "Management is trying to break the back of the union," said Theoeng. While the deadlock lingers on, NUM workers continue to report to the plant where they are employed. However they do not pick up their tools and work.

This article originally appeared in the Weekly Mail.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Thandeka Gqubule
Guest Author

Related stories

Shaun Johnson: Charm without the smarm

The Weekly Mail hired him to get the training project off the ground; he did much, much more than that, writes Irwin Manoim

Court orders EFF to apologise for Gqubule and Harber ‘StratCom’ claim

The Johannesburg high court says the EFF had brought no evidence to back up the allegation

Journalist gives EFF one week to prove apartheid spy claims, or pay up

Thandeka Gqubule says she has obtained declassified documents proving that Stratcom was spying on her

Editorial: It is time that we listen and learn

We find ourselves in a vitriolic debate about our history —who did what, why did they do it, who can be trusted and who sold out

‘We need to take a critical view of a complicated history’

History can have conflicting narratives and as an audience we do not approach it without our own understanding of it

Subscribers only

Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never...

Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

More top stories

‘Where the governments see statistics, I see the faces of...

Yvette Raphael describes herself as a ‘professional protester, sjambok feminist and hater of trash’. Government officials would likely refer to her as ‘a rebel’. She’s fought for equality her entire life, she says. And she’s scared of no one

Covid-19 stems ‘white’ gold rush

The pandemic hit abalone farmers fast and hard. Prices have dropped and backers appear to be losing their appetite for investing in the delicacy

Al-Shabab’s terror in Mozambique

Amid reports of brutal, indiscriminate slaughter, civilians bear the brunt as villages are abandoned and the number of refugees nears half a million

South Africa’s cities opt for clean energy

Efforts to reduce carbon emissions will hinge on the transport sector

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…