Thursday, September 20, 2012

South African Platinum Miners Return To Work

SOUTH AFRICA (LA TIMES) - After winning a 22 percent wage increase, workers ended their six-week "illegal" strike at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine. The strike was considered illegal because workers had not submitted grievances to a conciliation body or notified officials 30 days prior to beginning. The mine shut down allegedly cost the South African government $550 million and caused the deaths of 45 people, including ten killed by angry mobs of workers.
One of the thousands of striking miners from the Lonmin
platinum mine celebrates 19 September 2012 after the workers
and management came to an agreement on a wage increase.

The strike, along with an on-going strike at Goldfields' KDC West mine, ignited strife between President Jacob Zuma and rival Julius Malema, the expelled youth leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). In addition, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), closely aligned with the ANC, lost credibility among miners after calling for an end to the strike last month. The NUM claims the deal rewards anarchy and undermines the normal bargaining process surrounding wage rates and work conditions. Source: South African platinum miners end strike, accepting pay raise (Reliability: High)

Comments: While Malema called on all miners in South Africa to strike, no new walk-outs have taken place. Zuma, who praised the deal, is likely to benefit from siding with the miners in the up-coming December conference where he is hoping to be renewed as President of South Africa.

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