Lonmin miners back at work after strikes

Workers associated with Amcu downed tools on Tuesday, demanding the immediate closure of the National Union of Mineworkers' offices at Lonmin. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

Workers associated with Amcu downed tools on Tuesday, demanding the immediate closure of the National Union of Mineworkers' offices at Lonmin. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

"Employees are back at work this morning [Friday] and discussions are ongoing," said spokeswoman Sue Vey on Friday.

Workers affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) went on an unprotected strike on Tuesday, demanding that the National Union of Mineworkers' (NUM) offices at Lonmin be shut down.

They suspended the strike after Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa ordered them to return to work with immediate effect on Wednesday. The night shift reported for duty at 6pm.

"There are channels to be followed ... go back to work so that your enemies will not take advantage of this situation," Mathunjwa told the workers gathered at nearby Wonderkop Stadium at the time.

Mathunjwa said there was a case at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration on the dispute over the recognition of Amcu as majority union at Lonmin.

He said on Wednesday: "I am going to the CCMA tomorrow [Thursday] where a final decision will be made as to who is the boss at Lonmin."

Lonmin said 83% of workers returned to work for the night shift on Wednesday, and 86% on Thursday morning.

Strike declared illegal
The Sowetan reported on Friday that Mathunjwa, who addressed union members on Wednesday, failed to tell them the Labour Court had declared the strike illegal, and had issued an order that Amcu distribute signed leaflets and SMSes warning them to return to work.

According to the newspaper, Mathunjwa threatened, at a memorial service for slain Amcu North West organiser Mawethu Steven, to lead a march to the Union Buildings, in Pretoria, in protest against the "union bashing" and killings in Rustenburg.

Steven was to have testified before the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, which is probing the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 44 people – 34 of them shot dead by the police – in strike-related unrest in Marikana in August.

He was killed at a tavern in the informal settlement near Marikana, on Saturday.
The same day, a NUM shop steward and his twin brother were killed in the informal settlement of Nkaneng, in Marikana.

Lonmin fell 6.4% to 37.70 rand in Johannesburg on Tuesday, the lowest since May 2. Anglo American Platinum, the biggest producer, declined 3.8% to R301, the worst level since September, 2005, while Impala Platinum Holdings dropped 5.1% to R98.89, its lowest since November, 2008.

The rand weakened less than 0.1% to R9.2407 per dollar by 8.15am in Johannesburg, its lowest level since April 2. – Sapa, Bloomberg

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