, MARIKANA, Sept 18 – Miners at South Africa’s Lonmin platinum mine on Tuesday ended their strike in return for a 22 percent pay raise, after a nearly six-week standoff that had claimed 45 lives.
The industrial action which started on August 10 and spread to other platinum and gold mining firms had sparked deep political turmoil and fears about the economic impact on Africa’s wealthiest country.
Amid the bitter industrial standoff, police opened fire on striking miners, killing 34 on August 16 in the worst police shooting since the end of apartheid.
When news of the pay offer by the London-listed company was announced to workers at a stadium, thousands broke into song and dance, lifting their representatives on their shoulders in celebration.
A young man wrote on his palm “mission accomplished” and showed the message to television cameras.
After a round of fresh talks Tuesday, a negotiator had announced the workers had settled for a 22 percent wage rise and a $245 one-off bonus from the owners of the world’s third largest platinum mine.
“The actual increase is about 22 percent, which is very high,” said Bishop Jo Seoka, the president of the South African Council of Churches, who had brokered the talks between the miners and their employer.
“The workers are very happy with it, and so we believe that what has happened here has been a victory really for the workers, and they’re going to work on Thursday morning.”
Details of the full new salaries were yet to be released, but on Monday the workers had agreed for the first time since they went on strike to lower their monthly salary demand.
They resumed Tuesday afternoon with what one mediator called “make-or-break” negotiations. Seoka said the negotiators would still have to return for a final round of talks “to seal it off”.