Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 07 September 2009 – South Africa’s biggest mineworkers’ union “’ the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) “’ plans to meet striking workers at Impala Platinum today in an effort to try to persuade them to return to work.
The strike turned violent on Thursday after some workers attacked union leaders who tried to convince them to accept the company’s latest pay offer. A top union official was hit in the face by a stone and lost an eye.
“The strike is still going on. Our deputy president has been injured so the talks with members have been suspended until we find a way to talk to them,” NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka told Reuters.
Police are investigating the incident, which the union blamed on "criminal elements", but the violence raises the stakes in the two-week strike at a time when it seemed to be fizzling out.
The NUM believes the company will not budge on the offer, and that prolonging the strike is futile.
Implats “’ facing lower earnings and rising costs “’ has offered a 10% pay rise, saying it cannot afford the worker’s demand for a 14% increase, which is more than twice South Africa’s inflation rate of 6.7%.
The gold, coal and power sectors have agreed to raise wages by about 10%.
Implats “’ which produces a quarter of the world’s platinum “’ said workers had started returning to work, although there were still not enough people to re-start production at its biggest mine, Rustenburg. It added that its smaller Marula mine had returned to work, while the company’s metal refinery in Springs, east of Johannesburg, had not been affected by the strike.
The NUM and Anglo Platinum “’ the world’s biggest producer of the precious metal “’ are still negotiating on their pay rise.