Johannesburg, South Africa — 18 June 2013 – The mineworkers who were held underground at Anglo American Platinum’s (Amplats) Thembelani mine in Rustenburg have been released.
“All is normal. Our employees re-surfaced and received medical attention to ensure all were in good health,” said Amplats spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole. According to the company about 2,400 mineworkers were prevented from exiting the shaft on Friday.
“We confirm that this is as a result of the suspension of four shop stewards for inappropriate behaviour which is against our behavioural procedure,” Sithole said at the time.
Earlier, French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that the workers were staging a sit-in strike over the suspension of four union leaders.
“They don’t want to come out from underground because they want their leadership’s suspension lifted,” Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) official George Tyobeka was quoted as saying.
The four AMCU leaders suspended were reportedly accused of submitting fraudulent membership applications in an attempt to inflate union membership numbers.
AMCU and its rival union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), have been struggling for dominance at the mines, which has resulted in violent strikes and assassinations.
Last year, the police shot dead 34 miners at Lonmin’s neighbouring mine in Marikana.
Eight NUM members were recently suspended at Lonmin for alleged union membership fraud.
The Amplats tension happened as deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe was meeting unions and mining companies on Friday to find a solution to the instability which has troubled the sector in the past months.
Source: Anglo American Platinum. For more information, click here.