/ 25 May 2014

NUM pleads for end to platinum strike

Platinum miners during a wage increase strike on January 23 2014 in Marikana.
Platinum miners during a wage increase strike on January 23 2014 in Marikana.

Parties involved in the platinum sector wage dispute must resolve the fall-out speedily in the interest of workers, mining communities, and the country, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Sunday.

“If the dispute is not resolved we are going to see permanent casualties in the loss of jobs and people losing their property,” said general secretary Frans Baleni after the union’s national executive committee meeting in Johannesburg. 

Baleni said the strike was damaging the economy of the country.

Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) at Lonmin, Impala, and Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) in Rustenburg in the North West province and Northam in Limpopo downed tools on January 23 demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500.

They rejected the companies’ offer that would bring their cash remuneration to R12 500 by July 2017. The strike has cost employees R8.6-billion in earnings and companies have lost R19.5-billion in revenue according to a website, platinumwagenegotiations.co.za, created by the companies.

Labour Court brokered mediation talks between Amcu and the companies were ongoing, after no agreement was reached on Friday.

Platinum producers said on Friday they were committed to finding a common commitment to resolve the dispute.

Violence and intimidation
The strike, now on its 122nd day, has been marred by violence and intimidation, leading to the deaths of five NUM members.

“In this regard the NEC makes a clarion call to all its members to exercise their right to go to work and, most importantly, it calls on all its members to exercise their right to defend themselves against any forms of violence and intimidation.

“The NEC calls on the them to defend their families, their lives and property.”

Baleni said law enforcement agencies must apply the law effectively to restore safety in the mines and in the mining communities. 

“Violence must be removed, it is not part of collective bargaining,” he said. “We urge all strategic philanthropic institutions and government to give support to the victims of violence, particularly the families that have been affected for no cause of their own.”

He said the NUM deplored the selective support that had been given to some victims.

“For example Lonmin provided support to all those killed by the South African Police Service (SAPS) in 2012 and has not extended the same treatment to subsequent victims of violence.”

Police shot and killed 34 strikers and injured more than 70 at Lonmin in Marikana on April 16 2012. – Sapa