Striking S.African mineworkers reject wage offer
South Africa's platinum mineworkers rejected a fresh wage offer at a public meeting Thursday, and vowed to continue a week-long strike that has brought the sector to a stand-still.
Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union crowded into a platinum belt stadium to hear details of a deal firms were hoping would end a stoppage costing each of them as much as $9 million a day.
Anglo Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin– the world’s top three producers — have proposed wage increases of at least seven percent for each of the next three years.
But members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union gave the offer short shrift.
Informed of the terms by leaders, the stadium erupted with jeers and with a cry of “asiyi” meaning we are not going back.
“We’ve been mandated to go back to the drawing board,” said AMCU’s Lonmin branch secretary Reuben Lesejane. “The strike will end after our demands are met, for now the strike continues.”
An estimated 80,000 workers downed tools last Thursday, prompting the government to call talks between the union and the top three mining firms.
The union has called for a basic monthly minimum wage of 12,500 rand ($1,150), around double the current amount.
It is the same demand that spurred 2012 strikes, which resulted in the police shooting dead 34 miners on one day.
The mood inside the stadium was one of defiance.
“The employers still do not want to give what we want,” said Lonmin employee Zenzo Mathale.
“The companies don’t get it,” he said. “They only want profits. Things can’t go on like this… but we are prepared to fight.”
Amos Letsi said the strike was hurting workers, who were not getting paid, but he vowed to press on.
“Our demand is very clear, we want a living wage, nothing else,” said Amos Letsi. “People died for this, no one listens.”
Mine bosses who have shut down operations have appealed with the union to consider the offer, saying its demand was “simply not feasible in the foreseeable future.”