Rustenburg, South Africa — 30 August 2012 – Managers, unions and workers at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine have started talks with South African government mediators as thousands of miners continued a strike that has sparked violence which left 44 dead.
Fin24 reports that around 50 people from various delegations filled the town hall here, near the North West province mine, for the first all-encompassing talks on the strike.
Meanwhile only 7.7% of the mine’s 28 000 employees showed up for work yesterday, similar to the low turnout of 8% on Tuesday.
The situation on the ground was “still peaceful,” said Lonmin spokeswoman Sue Vey. “I don’t expect everyone to work today.”
Police opened fire on striking workers at the mine on 16 August, killing 34, after an escalating stand-off between rival unions that had already killed 10 people, including two police officers.
The incident was the worst day of police violence in South Africa since the end of white-minority apartheid rule in 1994.
The parties are describing yesterday’s talks as a bid to reach a peace accord to stop the unrest at the mine and pave the way for negotiations to end the strike that began on 10 August.
Vey said the closed-door meetings were a “first step and an instrument to move together.
Everyone wants it to be a success,” she added.
“I’m very optimistic because this is the first time that all the parties are meeting. We are positive,” said mediator Bishop Jo Seoka from the South African Council of Churches before entering the venue.
Workers, who claim they earn R4 000 a month, are demanding a raise to R12 500. Lonmin, the world’s number three platinum producer, says the workers already earn around 10 000 rand when bonuses and other compensation are included.
Lonmin said wage discussions would not be on the agenda yesterday.
“At the end of the day it’s all about public order. We cannot discuss wages when people are intimidated. It’s all a matter of it has to go back to normality before anything can be discussed,” said company spokeswoman Vey.
Source: Fin24. For more information, click here.