Johannesburg, South Africa — 07 September 2012 – South Africa’s militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has refused to sign a "peace deal" with world number 3 platinum producer Lonmin, undermining government-backed efforts to open pay talks and end a four-week strike scarred by deadly violence.
Reuters reports that while Lonmin signed the accord with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and other labour groups in the early hours, AMCU representatives declined to put their names to the agreement.
AMCU-affiliated miners at the Marikana platinum mine, where police shot dead 34 striking rock-drill operators last month in the deadliest security incident since the end of apartheid, said they were not interested in a deal that failed to include a basic wage hike to R12,500 a month “’ double what they now earn.
“I was there to talk about R12,500, not some peace accord, so we did not sign any document,” Molefi Phele, who represented striking workers, told Reuters Television.
Lonmin said it was open to talks with AMCU and striking workers on their wage demands “’ provided they returned to work by a Monday deadline “’ even though analysts say the company can ill afford such an increase.
The London-headquartered company said only 1.7% of workers reported for duty at its South African operations yesterday, with miners saying they have been threatened with death if they go back to their jobs.
South African finance minister Pravin Gordhan told reporters he did not think the labour stand-off at Lonmin would affect the growth of Africa’s biggest economy in “any significant way.” The strike has cost Lonmin about US$95 million so far.
Lonmin shares, which had lost 25% of their value since 16 August, were up as much as 5% in afternoon trade in London amid hopes that the peace deal would open up a path to a settlement, despite AMCU’s holding out.
“With this agreement the moment has arrived for AMCU and the striking workers to show whether or not they can function in a peaceful environment,” said Gideon du Plessis of the Solidarity union of skilled workers.
Source: Reuters Africa. For more information, click here.