S African miners end strike after pay deal
JOHANNESBURG / SOUTH AFRICA
Miners dance and cheer after they were informed of wage increase offer outside Marikana mine, after six weeks of unrest that shook Africa’s largest economy. REUTERS photoA six-week strike at world No. 3 platinum producer Lonmin has come to an end with a hefty wage settlement that could stir more strife in South Africa’s restive mining sector.
Lonmin’s 11-to-22 percent pay hike deal with striking workers may be a red rag for others in an industry riven by income disparities laid bare by a wave of violent industrial action in which 45 people died last month, Reuters reported.
The industrial action that started on Aug. 10 and spread to other platinum and gold mining companies had sparked social turmoil and fears about the economic impact on Africa’s wealthiest country.
Amid the bitter standoff, police opened fire on striking miners, killing 34 on Aug. 16 in the worst such shooting since the end of apartheid. When news of the pay offer by the company was announced earlier Sept. 18 to workers at a stadium, thousands broke into song and dance, lifting their representatives on their shoulders in celebration.
After a round of fresh talks Sept. 18, a negotiator had announced in the afternoon that the workers had settled for a 22 percent wage rise and a $245 one-off bonus from the owners of mine. As Lonmin’s miners prepare to don their helmets and head back down the shafts, others are eyeing their gains greedily.
Abey Kgotle, the company’s executive director for external affairs, said the agreement “brings to an end a very painful five weeks all of us had to go through,” Agence France-Presse reported. Speaking about those killed, he said “we would like to conclude this agreement in the honour of all the deceased employees we had to bury.” Not all workers rejoiced at the new pay package.