South African President Blames Striking Mine Workers

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AFRICANGLOBESouth African President Jacob Zuma yesterday voiced concern over frequent violence during the ongoing strikes at the platinum sector.“Once the workers were on strike, instead of striking and dealing with the issues, they armed themselves with dangerous weapons,” Zuma said during a visit to the North West province where a strike has been dragging on for almost six weeks.

“We think we need to be very emphatic to everybody that there should be no strike, no protest with people armed with dangerous weapons, that’s where we should stop it.”

There have been reports that non-striking mineworkers have been intimidated or attacked by striking workers.

Zuma also accused mining companies of exacerbating the tension by reneging on social labour plans aimed at improving the lives of their employees.

As Zuma spoke, the Anglo-American Platinum announced that talks aimed at ending the strike had been suspended indefinitely.

The suspension would allow the stakeholders time to reflect the current offer, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) said in a statement.

The talks between the platinum sector and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union have been on and off since January 24, one day after Amcu members downed tools over wage demands at Amplats and two other platinum producers – the Impala Platinum and Lonmin Platinum.

Amcu wanted basic salaries of about US$1,136 a month, a demand rejected by the companies.  On Tuesday, the union revised its demand, agreeing to a gradual realisation of the demand in a period of four years.

In yesterday’s statement, Am- plats said it noted the revised demand.

“This revised wage demand translates into an average annual increase of 29 percent and remains unaffordable,” the statement said. “The company maintains that Amcu’s revised offer remains significantly above inflation and a further increase is not sustainable.”

The strike has dealt a heavy blow on the platinum sector. Since the strike began, Amplats has lost approximately 4,000 platinum ounces of daily production, translating into about US$9.2 million of revenue value per day, the company claims.

 

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