Lonmin workers vow to stay away until demands are met

"No R12 500, we will remain here until after Wednesday," said their leader Zolisa Bodlani on Monday.

He said Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant was expected to meet unions, management and worker representatives on Wednesday.

"Mine management said the matter was now on the hands of the minister until a meeting on Wednesday. We will not go to work," Bodlani said. The workers hoped to meet with Oliphant on Tuesday, to raise their concerns. After that meeting, they would decide whether their delegates would attend a meeting on Wednesday between four unions, mine management and the minister.

The four unions are the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), and Uasa. Strikers who were gathered at the mine on Monday dispersed peacefully. The police kept watch from a distance.

Recent protests at the mine were believed to be linked to rivalry between the Amcu and the NUM over recognition agreements at the mine, and the demand for higher wages. Thirty-four people died and 78 were wounded when police opened fire on protesters on August 16.

Ten people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in the preceding week. Police arrested 260 people. They appeared in the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court on Monday on charges ranging from murder to public violence.

Workers were expecting that their delegates would report to them that the mine had accepted their R12,500 demand. "If the report is favourable, the night shift may report for duty tonight [Monday]," said one of the workers, Kgaugelo Kgaugelo.

According to an employment contract a worker showed journalists, he earned a basic salary of R4 914 and a living out allowance of R1 770. "I stay in the mine hostel. I do not qualify for the living out allowance. It is difficult to live with R4 000," said another worker, Abram Pitso.

He said he wanted to renovate his home, but could do it only when he was paid his leave bonus, amounting to R12 000. "The R12 500 will take us somewhere," he said. – Sapa


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