News / Africa

South African Striking Miners Reject Wage Offer

Striking Lonmin Platinum miners gather in Marikana, South Africa, where a new wage offer was rejected, Sept. 14, 2012.
Striking Lonmin Platinum miners gather in Marikana, South Africa, where a new wage offer was rejected, Sept. 14, 2012.
Anita Powell
Striking South Africa platinum mine workers have rejected a new wage offer from their employer after a five-week illegal strike that has been plagued with deadly violence. Meanwhile, South Africa’s government says it won’t tolerate any more violence or unrest. 

South African officials said Friday that enough is enough after five weeks of illegal mining strikes that have led to dozens of deaths and paralyzed the nation’s most important industry.

In a statement issued Friday by the office of Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, the government said it will no longer tolerate violence and intimidation like they have seen at the Lonmin platinum mine. More than 45 people have been killed in weeks of violence over a pay dispute at that mine, located some 100 kilometers from Johannesburg.

Impact of productivity

Those weeks of violence have seriously impacted the platinum market and Lonmin’s productivity.

On Friday, Lonmin reported its worst attendance figures yet: just 0.31 percent of workers showed up. If that percentage were applied to Lonmin’s total workforce of 28,000, that means less than 90 people came to work Friday.

Government spokesman Phumla Williams says while the workers are free to strike, they need to stop intimidating and hurting others.

“We cannot allow violence to continue and innocent people being killed while they are getting on with their lives. And I’m sure you do appreciate that we do have law enforcement agencies that will ensure that safety and that the country is actually safe for every South African who wants to work," said Williams. "In South Africa people are entitled to strike within the law. People are entitled to get on with their lives and feel that their rights, that they can voice their view. But what we are not appreciating is when they do it outside of the law. For instance they cannot actually gather and have actually some people being killed."

Williams would not say what action the authorities might take, if any, against ex-youth leader Julius Malema, who earlier this week called for a national mining strike.

Malema has repeatedly called on workers to make South Africa’s mining sector “ungovernable” and calls his movement a “revolution.”

No end in sight

But the strike shows no sign of ending after workers rejected Lonmin’s initial pay offer on Friday.

The workers are demanding a raise from about $500 a month to about $1,500 - that’s about 12,500 South African rand.

Miner Gilbert Temo says his colleagues told him Lonmin offered a raise of up to 900 rand - about $100 - a month for rock drillers. Other, less skilled workers were offered a 500-rand raise.

He says workers’ demands - and reasoning - are simple. "They say they want 200 percent, not 10 percent. They say they want 12.5 [thousand rand, $1,500], not less than 12.5. So if it’s less than 12.5, they won’t take it,” he explained.

Lonmin refused to release details of their offer, but the 900-rand (about $100) offer is in line with other media reports.

Jimmy Gama, the treasurer of the union credited with starting the strike, said negotiations are still ongoing.

Gama’s Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union has said the situation has escalated to the point that they now want President Jacob Zuma to call a top-level meeting.

Three major mines have been paralyzed as labor unrest has spread.

Lonmin workers launched a wildcat strike in August after union negotiations broke down. On August 16, strikers clashed with police at the mine some 100 kilometers from Johannesburg, leading police to shoot dead 34 demonstrators. The government has ordered an investigation.

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid