Platinum miners want Anglo American to dig deeper

The strike has so far yielded about three dozen arrests and nothing more than a one-off offer of R2 000 as well as a R2 500 loan, which was to be paid back in January.

The offer was allegedly made on Friday last week in the presence of recognised unions at the mine and about nine strike committee representatives.

The unions present included the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and Uasa.

"We didn't ask for sympathy so management must talk about our original demands and say what they can afford," said strike committee member Evans Ramokga. "We want to return to work unconditionally. Many people have been shot by police for nothing so we don't want to go back to work empty handed."

Ramokga said part of management's proposal included a final warning letter for participating in the illegal strikes. The workers' salary demands amount to more than R16 000, including a living out allowance of R2 000 and a transport allowance of R1 440.


Ramokga added that workers did not trust management's talk of going back to work while negotiations proceeded because "workers who were on strike in 1996 said they had allowed that to happen and nothing came out of their strike".

Early on Tuesday morning a NUM office was set alight at the Khuseleka shaft, possibly as a show of anger at management's response and the NUM's insistence that it had secured the reinstatement of the Amplats strikers.

Thirteen people were arrested in connection with the incident, bringing the number of arrests to at least 35. Another 22 were arrested at Turffontein shaft a few weeks ago, allegedly for intimidation. They have been remanded in custody since their arrest.

Shaft committees from the company's Amandebult, Union and Rustenburg operations met on Thursday to discuss a way of giving impetus to the strike.

Amplats, which averages about 3 700 ounces of platinum a day in production, is the world's largest producer of platinum and has lost close to 142 000 ounces of platinum since the strike began. The Rustenburg region accounts for half of its production.

In a statement released on Thursday, the company expressed its disappointment at the rejection of its offer and said disciplinary action was under way at its Amandebult and Union operations. More than 12 000 of the company's workers are on strike.

The seven-week strike has left a trail of destruction in Rustenburg. Taxis have been torched and businesses near mines have been destroyed.

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Kwanele Sosibo
Kwanele Sosibo
Kwanele Sosibo is the editor of Friday, the arts and culture section of the Mail and Guardian.
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