South Africa's platinum workers due to decide on strike
Around 30,000 striking South African platinum miners packed a stadium near the northwestern town of Rustenburg Monday, expecting union leaders to sign a new wage deal to end a protracted work stoppage.
Jubilant members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) clad in green shirts chanted slogans and sang songs waiting for the arrival of their leader Joseph Mathunjwa.
A white marquee was erected in the middle of the pitch where Mathunjwa was expected to address the workers and possibly end the five-month strike, the longest in the history of mining in South Africa.
The union had a week ago agreed in principle with the world's top platinum miners -- Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin -- to call off the work stoppage.
They then made fresh demands that threatened to scupper the deal, but an advisor to the union last week told AFP the strike would end by Monday.
Workers were optimistic and appeared geared up give a green light to end the strike.
"Today is the end," said mine worker Fred Molefe in anticipation of the deal. "We want it to end, it's been too long."
Another, Mojalefa Thabane, showing signs of fatigue over drawn-out stoppage said: "Mathunjwa must sign."
"We are tired, but we have fought a good fight. I know that we will not get what we wanted but it is better than nothing," he added.
The strike has hit platinum production in the world's top exporting country, with companies reporting a combined loss of 23.8 billion rand ($2.24 billion) in earnings.
© 2014 AFP