NUM members at Northam platinum mine down tools

National Union of Mineworkers at Northam platinum mine in Limpopo are on strike. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

National Union of Mineworkers at Northam platinum mine in Limpopo are on strike. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) at Northam platinum mine in Limpopo are on strike, the union said on Monday.

"The strike started on Sunday night without any incident of violence," said Ecliff Tantsi, the NUM chief negotiator at Northam platinum.

He said over 7 000 NUM members representing approximately 80% of the workers at the mine went on strike demanding an increase of R2 100 for core workers, such as rock drill operators, and R2 000 for non-core workers.

The union further demanded that the R2 200 living out allowance be increased to R3 718.

"The company has responded with a meagre 6.5% for non-core and 7% for core workers," he said.

"We reached a dispute, went to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and failed to find an amicable solution. We went further to propose another facilitator ... but, we still failed."

'No new developments'
​On Sunday, the company said it would suspend certain operations due to the strike.

Earlier on Sunday, Tantsi said there had been "no new developments" since wage negotiations broke down last week, and the strike notice was subsequently issued.

However, he said that he had phoned the mine's general manager, Danny Gonsalves, on Sunday morning.

"I indicated to him that we cannot lead by silence ...
In any war there will be time for parties to talk," said Tantsi.

"In the beginning of the war, to avoid casualties, it is wiser to find a solution".

Tantsi said the manager indicated he "understood me".

"I'm waiting for his call anytime."

Offers to miners
The mine said on Sunday evening that another meeting was planned for Tuesday.

On Sunday night, the NUM said in a statement that it had not been consulted about this meeting.

"We want state categorically clear that ever since we served the company with a 48 hour notice, nothing came out from the company for any meeting," Tantsi said.

He said that the strike began peacefully and not a single person went underground.

"This is an early indication that the turn out in support of the strike will be 100% [on Monday]."

Earlier on Sunday, speaking on behalf of the mine, Marion Brower, said the company had moved twice on its offers to miners, as well as offered facilitation.

Asked if further engagement between the employer and workers was on the cards, Brower at the time said: "I do know that when it comes to these kind of things, it's who blinks first." – Sapa

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