Johannesburg, South Africa — 19 September 2012 – Striking platinum miners at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in South Africa have accepted a hefty pay rise offer, ending six weeks of violent labour unrest that killed 45 people and rattled Africa’s largest economy.
Reuters reports that the strikers “’ grouped on a bare soccer pitch near the mine, 100 km north-west of Johannesburg “’ cheered when they were told that management were offering a 22% pay increase, and said they would return to work tomorrow.
At least one analyst expressed concern that the Marikana wage increase could trigger a rash of pay demands across a mining sector already being squeezed by low metals prices and rising labour and electricity costs.
Lonmin confirmed that the deal had been signed in Rustenburg on last night.
“The agreement includes a signing bonus of R2,000 and an average rise in wages of between 11 and 22% for all employees falling within the Category 3 to 8 bargaining units, effective from 1 October 2012,” the company said in a statement.
In another sign that weeks of trouble in South Africa’s platinum belt were ending, the world’s biggest platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum, announced that it had resumed operations in the strike-hit Rustenburg area.
The spot platinum price fell 2% on the Marikana news to US$1,627.49/oz, and the rand firmed over 1% to R8.166 to the dollar.
Marikana strikers’ representative Bodlani said the workers had asked Lonmin management to promise that it would work with unions to reach the R12,500 basic monthly salary within two years. The company has not yet responded to this. It had previously argued that paying R12,500 a month would put thousands of jobs at risk and challenge the viability of the business.
Amplats, in its statement, said it considered it was now safe for employees to return to their jobs, but acknowledged that many mining employees were still to return to work.
It said smelting and other processing operations at Rustenburg were already at normal levels.
Amplats had suspended operations in the heart of the platinum belt last week when machete-wielding strikers marched on shafts.
An illegal strike by 15,000 workers at the KDC West mine operated by Gold Fields Limited, the world’s fourth largest bullion producer, continued yesterday as its chief executive said the firm would not agree to demands for a minimum wage of R12,500 a month.
Source: Reuters Africa. For more information, click here.