Amplats workers refuse to accept dismissals

"We used the Bleskop Stadium on Saturday, a day after the mine fired us. If we were fired they could not have allowed us to use their property," said Gaddhafi Mdoda, one of the strike leaders.

"The dismissal does not threaten us. If the mine is going to dismiss us, no one is going to work at the mine."

He said despite being fired they regarded themselves as employees of Amplats and workers would gather at the Bleskop Stadium again on Monday.

"We are going to Bleskop, we are still employees of the mine," he said.

He said they would not appeal their dismissals but continue with the strike until their demand was met.

Amplats fired 12 000 workers on Friday after they failed to attend disciplinary hearings. Workers went on a wildcat strike on September 12, demanding a monthly salary of R16 000 and allowances.

On Thursday night one of the workers was killed at Nkaneng informal settlement near Photsaneng.

'Reinstate workers'
The police fired teargas and rubber bullets to disperse them, and later a man identified as Mtshunquleni Qakamba (48) was found dead.

"We are going to lay a charge of murder against the police for killing one of our comrades," Mdoda said.

He said the case would be opened at the Rustenburg police station on Monday.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in North West has appealed to the workers to suspend their strike.

"We are calling on all workers who are on [an] unprotected strike to reconsider to suspend the strike to allow the negotiations to start and allow the federation to lead their demand for proper disputes and take a protected action which will not dismiss anyone," said provincial secretary Solly Phetoe.

The federation appealed to Anglo American Platinum to reinstate fired workers.

"We call on the employers to reinstate all those workers and call the unions to discuss the demands of workers," said  Phetoe.

Spate of attacks
Phetoe said the federation was concerned about the spate of attacks on the leaders of the National Union of Mineworkers' (NUM) and their relatives.

"This is clearly no longer about wages but a clear attack on the NUM, Cosatu and its members.

"Workers are now under attack and being forced to join other unions that are not their choice. Workers are forced to get into unprotected strikes …," he said.

He said the killing of NUM leaders was a cause for concern and workers were now living in fear of raising their cases with the union, management or the police.

The cousin of an NUM shop steward was shot and killed in Marikana, near Rustenburg at the weekend.

"An unemployed cousin of a NUM shop steward was shot and killed last night [Saturday] at the shop steward 's house in what is reported to be a case of mistaken identity," NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said.

"Gunmen appeared from nowhere at the Marikana hostel and immediately shot the steward 's cousin who was sitting on a bed. The cousin died on the scene."

'Assassination'
On Friday night, a NUM branch leader was shot dead at his home in Marikana, in what Seshoka described as an "assassination".

"This comes after the death of the NUM branch chairperson last weekend and the attack on another branch leader, who escaped while his wife was killed," said Seshoka.

Five NUM members – two of them shop stewards – were killed in violence associated with a strike at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana between August 10 and August 16, said Seshoka.

"Cosatu NW condemns all the killings no matter who is involved, all the killers, in particular those of activists in our trade unions," said Phetoe.

"Cosatu supports the demands of the workers but we are not supporting illegal actions, and the continuation of killing each other. We are not supporting intimidation during strikes or forcing workers to join unions that they have not chosen …"

The South African Communist Party said what was camouflaged as legitimate workers' demands and protest in the mining sector had now been hijacked by regressive forces, just like in apartheid, to try and eliminate the NUM and its basic unity.

"To use violence to mobilise workers away from their organisation must be strongly condemned. Over a period of time the SACP has been warning of an existence of a lumpen tendency that is prepared to do anything including these senseless killings, to assume power in society," said spokesperson Malesela Maleka.

The SACP called on the state to act "with haste".

"We also call upon employers to take responsibility for these developments as it is their own dangerous and opportunistic actions in trying to weaken the NUM that has led to this situation," the SACP said. – Sapa

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