News / Africa

Stay Strong, Union Boss Tells S. Africa Platinum Strikers

Miners on strike chant slogans as they march in Nkaneng township outside the Lonmin mine in Rustenburg, May 14, 2014.
Miners on strike chant slogans as they march in Nkaneng township outside the Lonmin mine in Rustenburg, May 14, 2014.
Reuters
The president of South Africa's striking AMCU union urged its members on Wednesday to remain strong in the face of efforts by the world's top platinum firms to woo miners to end a 16-week stoppage, the longest and costliest ever to hit the sector.
 
“Let's stay strong. Yes it's difficult, but let's hold each other by the hand and stay strong. Onward!” Joseph Mathunjwa told thousands of strikers at a rally near the Marikana operations of London-listed producer Lonmin .
 
In a dramatic show of force, the strikers, many wielding sticks, roared their approval to Mathunjwa's remarks, which sent spot platinum to two-month highs over $1,470 an ounce.
 
Earlier, AMCU members had prevented other workers from trying to return to Lonmin's shafts, thwarting the company's efforts to end the strike.
 
Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum have also been hit by the strike over pay, which has brought to a halt 40 percent of global production of the precious metal used for catalytic-converters in automobiles.
 
Lonmin had been aiming on Wednesday for a “mass return” of workers. The trio of producers have said many of the strikers have signaled a willingness to accept the latest pay offer by cell phone SMS, emails and other means. It was not immediately clear how many workers tried to return to the shafts.
 
But Mathunjwa told the rally, held near the site where police shot dead 34 striking AMCU members in August 2102, that “the spirit of the workers will not be not be broken by SMSs.”
 
Mathunjwa, a Salvation Army lay preacher who often evokes both God and class warfare, used typically combative language, telling the crowd that “the purpose of capital is to destroy AMCU and its members.”
 
He later told reporters that the strike would continue as AMCU's members were still rejecting the latest wage offer.
 
There was a heavy police presence in the area and the national police commissioner was to hold a news conference at the Marikana police station at 1500 local time.
 
Intimidation

The rival National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said its members were unable to return to work because of AMCU intimidation. Four people have been murdered around the platinum mines in the last four days, with no arrests.
 
The companies have been taking their latest wage offer directly to AMCU's members via SMS and radio spots after wage talks with the union collapsed three weeks ago.
 
Mathunjwa said AMCU was going to the labor court next week to prevent the producers from by-passing the union in this way.
 
The companies said they would “strongly oppose” this, saying in a statement that they “wanted to ensure that employees are fully informed of the offer, and that they are empowered to accept or reject the offer of their own free will.”
 
The industry has long accused AMCU of using intimidation to keep its members in line, allegations it denies.
 
The companies are offering increases of up to 10 percent that they say would raise the overall minimum pay package to 12,500 rand ($1,200) a month by July 2017, including cash allowances such as for housing.
 
They say they can go no higher given rising costs and depressed prices and Lonmin's chief executive Ben Magara said on Monday restructuring and job cuts were inevitable as it posted a steep fall in six-month earnings.
 
AMCU had initially demanded an immediate increase to 12,500 rand in the basic wage, excluding allowances, but softened that in March to staggered increases that would amount to 12,500 rand within three or four years - still a third more than what the companies are offering in basic salaries.
 
The strike highlights the discontent among black miners who feel they are still not reaping the benefits of the country's mineral wealth two decades after apartheid ended.
 
It has also hurt already sluggish growth in Africa's most advanced economy and rating agency Moody's said on Wednesday the country's credit rating remained under pressure.

You May Like

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs