News / Africa

South Africa Platinum Mine Strike 'Officially Over'

A township resident walks past Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa, June 13, 2014.
A township resident walks past Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa, June 13, 2014.
VOA News
South Africa's AMCU union declared a five-month platinum strike “officially over” on Monday as thousands of miners roared their approval when leader Joseph Mathunjwa asked if they wanted to end the longest work stoppage in the country's history.

The South African Press Association on Monday quoted Mathunjwa as saying a deal with platinum-producing companies will be signed on Tuesday and workers will return to work by Wednesday.
 
“The strike is officially over,” Mathunjwa said, to unrestrained jubilation from the tens of thousands of workers packed into Rustenburg's Royal Bafokeng Stadium, one of the venues for the 2010 soccer World Cup.
 
The companies - Lonmin, Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum - estimate the strike has cost several billion dollars in lost earnings for workers as well as company revenue, the Associated Press reported.

When the strike began Jan. 23, 70,000 workers put down their tools to demand higher wages and benefits.

The industry is a pillar of the struggling South African economy. 

Markets react to news

On reports of the news, the spot price of platinum fell 1 percent, the rand firmed nearly 1 percent against the dollar to two-week highs and the London-listed shares of number three producer Lonmin rose as much as 7 percent.
 
The precious metal's two biggest producers, Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum, are listed on the Johannesburg stock market. It had closed by the time Mathunjwa finished his two-hour-long speech, but their shares closed up 1.6 percent and 1.1 percent respectively.
 
Industry sources said they could not confirm signings would take place on Tuesday but expected workers to return this week, Reuters reported.

“I'm very glad the strike is over, because we made a terrible wound in the South African economy and we are happy to heal that wound. Our children are suffering because they had no food,” Lucas Makgwe, a miner at Amplats told Reuters.
 
Mathunjwa, a Salvation Army lay preacher who casts himself as a class warrior doing battle for downtrodden black miners whose lives have changed little in the 20 years since apartheid ended, was exultant.
 
“Today we are creating a historic day in the mining sector,” Mathunjwa, clad in a trademark AMCU green shirt, told the crowd.
 
“The platinum sector will never be the same. What other unions have failed to do over many years, you have achieved in five months,” he said.
 
Mathunjwa said "companies agreed to the bulk of our demands," although "it has not been easy."
 
He acknowledged that not all workers would obtain their wage demand of 12,500 rand (850 euros, $1,150) a month in three years but added that "many will easily reach it" within this period, the French news agency AFP reported.
 
The increases offered by the three companies differ according to various worker categories.

The current minimum wage stands at about 5,000 rand.
 
The mining companies, constrained by depressed prices and soaring costs, had said the massive hikes AMCU was initially seeking would sink the industry.
 
Strike cost billions

There was no immediate reaction from the producers, who said earlier that "further progress towards a return to work has been made" but gave no details, simply stating they were expecting to receive feedback from AMCU after the meeting.

Marred at times by violence, the strike hit 40 percent of global production of platinum, which is used in jewelry and for emissions-capping catalytic converters in automobiles.
 
The stoppage dragged Africa's most advanced economy into contraction in the first quarter and cost the companies almost 24 billion rand ($2.25 billion) in lost revenue, according to an online tally run by the three firms.
 
Companies will lose revenue for several more weeks as the mines slowly grind back into life and production is restarted.
 
The resolution, while welcome, does not spell an end to the most turbulent bout of labor unrest since the end of white-minority rule, with the NUMSA metal workers' union threatening a strike in the auto industry next month.
 
The platinum sector also faces a painful restructuring, with job cuts almost inevitable - in part because of the losses incurred during the AMCU strike. That could trigger a further wave of walkouts or violence.

South Africa is a major producer of platinum, which is used in medical, electronic and other industries.

Meanwhile, the country's labor court has declared unlawful a planned gold mining strike by the same union, AMCU, gold producers said Monday.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid