Sunday, November 11, 2012

Amplats workers defiant, strike continues

Striking mineworkers at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) would not return to work, a miners' representative said in Rustenburg on Saturday. "The workers decided they won't go back to work. There are conditions that are unfavourable," Evans Ramokga said. "The strike is still on."

Hundreds of striking workers were gathered at a mass rally at the Olympia Park Stadium in Rustenburg on Saturday morning.The crowd was singing and dancing as police in Nyalas and vans kept watch over proceedings. A police helicopter was circling overhead.

On Friday Amplats management re-opened discussions on miners returning to work.
"The outcome of these discussions is that management has revised the initial offer to a once-off allowance of R4 500 [gross of tax] to be paid to each qualifying employee," it said in a statement.
"[This was] comprising a R2 000 loyalty or hardship allowance and a R2 500 safe start-up allowance to be paid two weeks after employees have returned to work and have commenced actual work."
Ramokga said the rally was also to ensure the safety and stability in Rustenburg and to stop violence.
"We are here mourning for our comrades who passed away during the strike all over the country."
He said they were also holding the rally to demand a living wage and better living conditions for all.
The workers said they would not oppose returning to work if their salary demands were met.
"We are looking for money. If they give us what we need, we can go back to work," said Simon Gqaza, an employee at Amplats for the last three years.

"I need R16 000. If they give me that money that I'm looking for I will go back to work anytime."
Amplats fired 12 000 workers after they failed to appear for a disciplinary hearing. They had been on a wildcat strike since 12 September, demanding to be paid a minimum of R16 000 a month.
The company then made the workers a re-instatement offer, which was not accepted.


During the rally the Democratic Left Front (DLF) handed out pamphlets and a spokesperson addressed the crowd offering support to the miners.

"Mineworkers are no longer prepared to accept the starvation wages offered by mine bosses, while they reap huge profits," the pamphlet read.
Spokesperson Vishwas Satgar said the DLF made a contribution because rallies have become a vocal point of solidarity.

"[We made the contribution] because we believe in the worker's cause. [The rallies] are a platform to amplify their cause, demands and struggle," Satgar said.
"We've made a modest contribution."

He could not give a specific amount, but said it was anywhere between R10 000 and R50 000. However he emphasised that the contribution was not only from them but also solidarity organisations who supported the miners.

"There's a strong feeling that the violence needs to come to an end."
He said he hoped the rally would send a strong message to mine bosses that a serious offer had to be put on the table.

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) also gave its support for the workers.
Spokesperson Mametlwe Sebei told workers the strike effort and strikers were becoming stronger by the day.
"We are strong because each and everyday we are becoming more organised."
He said workers were united.
"There is no compensation on the demand for a decent wage."
Spokesperson for the Marikana Support Campaign Rehad Desai also offered his support and called for miners to close down Amplats smelters.

The lawyer for the families of the killed Marikana miners and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union in the Farlam commission into the shooting, James Nichol also addressed the crowd. He explained how he witnessed the shooting in his London home and decided to come to South Africa to assist.

"When the miner go down the mine he goes down poor and when he comes up he comes up poor."
In the meantime mine bosses continued to become richer, Nichol said.

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