Platinum miner Lonmin recognises radical S.Africa union

14th August 2013, Comments 0 comments

British platinum miner Lonmin recognised on Wednesday the radical labour union that led the strike in which 34 workers were massacred at the Marikana mine last year.

The recognition is expected to ease the simmering tensions between the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and its rival, the National Union of Mineworkers at the volatile mine.

Coming just days to the first anniversary of the killing by police of the striking workers, Lonmin chief executive Ben Magara said the agreement "signals a new era".

In the year since the bloodbath at least eight prominent members from both unions have been murdered in the struggle for dominance in the world's richest platinum-producing region.

The latest victim, a local NUM leader, was gunned down in front of her house on Monday.

Magara vowed that "we'll put all we can to ensure peace and stability."

He said Lonmin was committed to ensuring that there will never be a repeat of the August 16, 2012 tragedy.

Demands for higher salaries sparked last year's wildcat strikes, and workers abandoned NUM in droves for AMCU. AMCU led the demands for huge pay hikes.

AMCU now represents 70 percent of Lonmin's 27,000 employees, stealing the majority position from NUM and leaving it with just 20 percent share of the membership.

"This is a milestone achievement, especially as it coincides with the day our brothers and sisters lost their lives in pursuit of a living wage," said AMCU leader Joseph Mathunjwa.

Labour analyst Daniel Silke believes that AMCU's recognition would give it a sense of accomplishment and but won't stop the NUM from reclaiming its position.

"In the short term, I think its positive on the mines."

On Friday South Africa commemorates the 34 deaths, as well as of at least 10 others in worker clashes during the preceding week.

Police opened fire on thousands of strikers at the Marikana mine northwest of Johannesburg on August 16 last year, in killings described as the worst since the end of apartheid two decades ago.

© 2013 AFP

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