After signing the agreement that would end the crippling five-month wage strike in South Africa’s platinum sector, Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (Amcu), has vowed to continue the fight against “slave wages.”
“There will be a continuation of the struggle to liberate our fellow comrades in the mining sector to realize a decent salary,” he said at the official signing of the wage agreement. “We will work towards their liberation of these slave wage salaries.”
Nevertheless, Mathunjwa confirmed that Amcu has agreed not to strike on the issues contained by the agreement and will follow the law on future stoppages over salaries in all mining industries.
The wage deal includes monthly raises for the lowest-paid employees of R1 000 in basic pay in the first two years of the agreement, with the same raise at Lonmin and a R950 raise at Impala and Amplats in the third year.
Employees are expected to return to work on Wednesday, 25 June 2014, with the full resumption of operations in the coming weeks.
“It is only a first step to rebuild our businesses,” said Lonmin Chief Executive Officer Ben Magara. “It is not necessarily a time of celebration. Clearly there are no winners in this strike.”
The strike, which began on 23 January 2014, has been South Africa’s longest and costliest strike, with employers forfeiting revenue of approximately R24 billion and employees losing earnings of some R10.6 billion.
“We welcome this positive development in the mining industry and congratulate all those who have been involved in the negotiations,” South African President Jacob Zuma said in a statement. “A long protracted strike was no longer in the interests of the parties involved or the country at large.”
Amcu: We will continue the fight against ‘slave wages’
Exxaro facing write down on R5.36bn Mayoko investment
Infographic: South Africa’s platinum strike statistics