South African miners' strike spreads

Submitted by AWL on 18 September, 2012 - 4:44

The South African miners’ strike is continuing, and spreading to more and more of the country’s mines.

Workers at the Samacor chrome mine in Rustenburg joined the strike on Friday 14 September, demanding R12,500 (before deductions and excluding bonuses), a R1,500 sleep-out allowance and a R1,500 underground allowance.

Workers’ action at the Amplats and Aquarius platinum mines in Rustenburg has shut down operations there, and workers at the KDC gold mine in West Rand joined the strike on Monday 10 September. Eight mines in total are now involved in the strike. The strikes have cost South Africa’s platinum and gold mining industries an estimated R4.5 billion ($548 million), with a further R118 million lost in the coal sector.

Lonmin, the platinum mine at the heart of the dispute where over 30 strikers were shot by police, have cancelled a contract to build a new shaft, axing 1,200 jobs in the process. The cancellation is clearly an act of revenge against workers for having the temerity to strike. Lonmin bosses claim the strikes could threaten 40,000 jobs in total.

A mass meeting of Lonmin strikers on Tuesday 18 September discussed, and rejected, the bosses’ latest offer. Workers are demanding a minimum monthly take-home pay packet of R12,500 (although union negotiators have indicated they would settle for R11,000). The bosses’ offer promised R10,938. After the meeting, workers burnt copies of the leaflet explaining management’s proposal.

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