Lonmin miners: We still have unresolved issues

Lonmin workers speaking to the Mail & Guardian have said that the conditions they put forward to end the strike are non-negotiable, which is why no date to return to work had been set.

Approximately 70 000 workers embarked on a strike in January 23 demanding a minimum wage of R12 500. As the strike wore on for weeks and then months, it developed into a humanitarian crisis with charity organisations such as the Gift of the Givers stepping in to provide food parcels for the starving families. The ripple effect engulfed Marikana and other neighbouring towns such as Rustenburg.

Last week, it was reported that workers asked Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa to sign on the latest offer from the three mining houses. The platinum producers have offered the two lowest pay categories of striking mineworkers an annual increase of R1 000 per month for the next two years in basic pay, and R950 for the year after. For miners, artisans and officials, there were increases of 8% per annum for the next two years, followed by 7.5% for the year after. Living allowances would remain unchanged at 2013 levels, while pension fund contributions, leave, and other allowances would change annually.

One of the key demands workers have issued to put an end to the strike involves the reinstatement of essential services colleagues dismissed for not coming work during the strike. Some of those were contract workers. “That one is unconditional,” said a Lonmin worker Anele Zonke. “If it’s not on the table, then we’re not signing at all. Right now there is no word on when we are going to work. We’ve sent our proposals about some of our demands through Amcu.”

Zonke said the 235 essential services workers fired were fired because they had expressed their legitimate fears about coming to work during the strike.

On Monday, Amcu general secretary Jeff Mphahlele told the M&G that the union was “still fine-tuning the agreement. Maybe it will be presented tomorrow [Tuesday] to the employers. We still have to agree on a number of issues that are up for consideration by both sides. Companies also still need to tell us about their logistical plans to conduct health checks, inductions and so on, so that we can relay that information to our members.”

Lonmin shaft steward Thembele Sohadi said workers were adamant that sleeping-out allowances should be kept separate from their annual increases for the next three years. “For the sleeping-out allowance, they must add money to it. We didn’t stipulate the figure, we said they must use their discretion. We said the same thing about medical aid and other benefits.”

Sohadi said that they had also demanded that the money be backpaid from October last year. “If management agrees to these, this strike is over.”

Lonmin, which does not have mining operations anywhere else outside Rustenburg, has been worst hit by the strike and attempted to include a retrenchment clause in its agreement document, which has been denied by Amcu. It was reported in the City Press that Lonmin, in a caveat filled document laden with chief executive Ben Magara’s handwriting, had asked that there should be “no striking related to any of the items covered by the wage agreement.”

Mining houses could not be reached for comment.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

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

SANDF inquiry clears soldiers of the death of Collins Khosa

The board of inquiry also found that it was Khosa and his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango who caused the altercation with the defence force members

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Lockdown relief scheme payouts to employees tops R14-billion

Now employers and employees can apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for relief scheme payments

Press Releases

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations