19 September 2012

South Africa: Parties Sign Agreement to End Strike

While miners at Lonmin secured a 22 percent pay rise, the settlement does not resolve lingering questions about union rivalry at the heart of the ... ( Resource: South Africa: Despite Lonmin Deal Inequalities Remain )

Rustenburg — An agreement ending the six-week-long Lonmin's Marikana mine strike was signed on Tuesday night in Mooinooi outside Rustenburg.

"We have reached an agreement that we have worked tirelessly for," said Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration commissioner Afzul Soobedaar.

He said the negotiations were not easy and congratulated the parties for their commitment to reach a settlement.

In terms of the agreement, the lowest underground worker would earn R9 611 from R8 164, a winch operator would earn R9883 from R 8 931, a rock drill operator would earn R11078 from R9 063 and production team leader would earn R13,022 from R11 818.

All workers would receive a once-off R2000 bonus and were expected to return to work on Thursday morning.

Lonmin spokesman Abbey Kgotle said the mine was happy to have concluded the negotiation which he describe as being difficult.

He dedicated the agreement to the workers who were killed during the strike.

National Union of Mineworker negotiator Eric Gcilitshana said the agreement would bring stability at Lonmin.

"Workers will return to work and earn wages," he said.

President of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction (Amcu) Joseph Mathunjwa said the agreement could have been reached before workers were killed when the strike intensified.

"This could have been done without losing lives," he said.

Workers at Lonmin's Marikana operation went on a wildcat strike on August

10, demanding a monthly salary of R12,500.

The strike turned violent and within four days ten people were killed, two of them policemen, two security guard and six workers.

The striking workers, armed with spears, pangas, knobkerries and iron rod camped on top of a hill near Wonderkop.

On August 16, police opened fire at them killing 34 and injuring 78.

A high contingency of police were deployed into the area. At least 1000 soldiers were deployed this past weekend to back up the police in restoring order.

The signing of the agreement came after the department of labour dragged unions, mine management and striking workers' representatives into a

meeting to find a solution. A peace accord was signed opening ways for wage negotiations.

Despite workers single-handedly obtaining a 22 percent increase, unions said they still had a role to play.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said unions had a vital role to play.

"The agreement confirms Amcu's value of not entering into any agreement without proper consultation."

Eric Gcilitshana of NUM said unions' role were still valid and relevant.

"After this workers will decide which union they want to join," he said.

The NUM had been hammered through out the strike, with workers indicating that they have lost confidence in the country's biggest mineworker union.

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