18 December 2012

South Africa: Bench Marks Foundation Is Concerned At Recent Reports From Workers At Marikana

press release

The following letter was sent to the management of Lonmin by John Capel, executive director of the Bench Marks Foundation on 13 December 2012:

The Bench Marks Foundation is concerned at recent reports from workers and community members in Marikana alleging that the agreed pay rise of 22% was only paid for the first month after the strike, and was then discontinued.

Further, there are allegation that the "return to work bonus" of R2000 that was received by all workers is now being deducted from workers' salaries, as if it was a loan. The Bench Marks Foundation requests that Lonmin provides a clarification on this issue.

Lonmin, along with the other platinum-producing companies in the area, bear responsibility for the negative impacts of mining on the lives of people in the Bojanala district. The Marikana tragedy cannot be understood without looking at the negative economic, social and environmental impacts of platinum mining for both workers and local communities in the area.

Living conditions for workers in the platinum mines are unacceptable, as many workers live in shacks and informal settlements. The living out-allowance policy of Lonmin, and most of the other platinum corporations, contribute to the swelling of informal settlements. Lonmin must take responsibility to provide its workers with decent housing.

The lack of local economic development and job opportunities was a key concern of the communities that participated in the Bench Marks Foundation's latest study on platinum mining in the Bojanala district (Policy Gap 6). Overall, both workers and local communities are not seeing the benefits of platinum mining manifested in improvements of their lives. Unless this situation is turned around, conflicts over wages and lack of local development will continue to erupt.

The Bench Marks Foundation specifically recommends that Lonmin socially responsible obligations are to:

  • Accept that it has a social responsibility to address aftermath effects of trauma being experienced by communities and workers and we ask what plans the company has to do this.
  • Provide clarification regarding allegations that Lonmin has not paid the 22% increase beyond the first month after the strikes ended. Failure to honour the agreement reached with the workers will mean exposing the company to the imminent risk of new strikes.
  • Pay compensation to the families of the deceased and the wounded workers equal to their loss of income for the next 20 years.
  • Contribute to a trauma fund that can help pay for the trauma and counselling centre.
  • Contribute 10% of profits towards community development, where community development committees will decide on what should be done and how.

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