Mediation talks over S.African mine strike postponed

August 31, 2012 10:45 am


Workers are adamant that they will not be returning to the job unless their wage increase demands are met/AFP
JOHANNESBURG, Aug 31 – Talks to end a three-week strike at South Africa’s Lonmin platinum mine, where violence claimed 44 lives, have been postponed to Monday after two days of negotiations failed to broker a deal.

Mine managers, unions, workers representatives and government mediators are seeking a “peace accord” after the killing of 34 striking workers two weeks ago by police — the worst day of police violence in South Africa since the end of white-minority apartheid rule in 1994.

“Last night we agreed that the group from the striking workers will go back and give feedback to the workers… and talks will resume on Monday afternoon,” said Senzeni Zokwana, the leader of National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Zokwana said the talks were aimed at getting all the parties to sign a peace accord so that the workers could return to work and were not to negotiate wages.

The talks will resume on Monday to allow the workers to attend the last remaining burials of their colleagues.

“We hope that by Tuesday everybody could go back to work,” said Zokwana.

But the workers are adamant that they will not be returning to the job unless their wage increase demands are met.

The striking workers who claim not to belong to any union want a wage increase from 4,000 rand a month to 12,500 rand (1,181 euros, $1,477).

Lonmin, the world’s number three platinum producer, says the workers already earn around 10,000 rand when bonuses and other compensation are included.

“We can’t say that we are happy with the progress so far. The employer has not made any wage offer, all they want is for the workers to simply return to work,” said Zolani Bodlani, a representative.

On August 16 police opened fire on striking workers at the mine killing 34, after an escalating standoff between rival unions that had already killed 10 people including two police officers.

Police arrested 270 people after the bloodbath, who were charged Thursday for the murder of their colleagues.


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