Johannesburg, South Africa — 21 August 2012 – The world’s no. 3 platinum producer Lonmin has extended by 24 hours its ultimatum to workers to report for duty yesterday or be sacked, following a week of violence in which 44 people were killed at its Marikana mine.
Reuters reports that the company has confirmed that almost a third of its 28,000 strong work force reported for their shifts yesterday. Both NUM and Solidarity said they supported the mine’s call for workers to return.
Police shot 34 dead on Thursday after moving in with automatic weapons against workers armed with spears, machetes and handguns in clashes which have brought back memories of the apartheid era.
About 3,000 striking workers faced the ultimatum to show up or face the sack. The situation remains tense and union leaders have also said they were not sure if workers would report to the shafts.
“The company is communicating with the rest of its local workforce who have not been on strike but have been unable to work because of violence, that police consider it safe for them to report for duty again,” Lonmin said in a statement. “Staff have also been issued with contact numbers to report any further incidents of intimidation,” the company said.
London-based Lonmin accounts for 12% of global platinum output. It is already struggling with low prices and weak demand. The company has slashed spending plans and may miss its annual production target of 750,000 ounces.
The strike was sparked by a spreading battle for membership between the powerful National Union of Mineworkers and the upstart Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which has accused NUM of caring more about politics and personal enrichment than workers in mine shafts.
Ten people were killed prior to the police shooting, including a NUM shop steward who was hacked to death.
Source: Reuters Africa. For more information, click here.