News / Africa

South African Union Leader Praises Platinum Wage Agreement

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) President Joseph Mathunjwa speaks to striking mine workers at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, June 23, 2014.The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) President Joseph Mathunjwa speaks to striking mine workers at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, June 23, 2014.
x
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) President Joseph Mathunjwa speaks to striking mine workers at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, June 23, 2014.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) President Joseph Mathunjwa speaks to striking mine workers at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, June 23, 2014.
James Butty

The president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) of South Africa has described the agreement ending the country’s longest mining strike as a breakthrough for workers. 

Joseph Mathunjwa said the workers have managed to unshackle themselves from the slave-wage structure dating from colonial times and lasting through 20 years since the end of apartheid.

He called on the South African government to re-examine its industrialization and wage policies to ensure an equitable distribution of the country’s wealth.  

Mathunjwa said the agreement has put the workers on the right path toward decent wages and working conditions in the mining industry.
 
“It was an agreement that we reached for the duration of three years, starting 2013 to 2016 June, of which they gave the least-paid mine worker a thousand rand increase for each and every month,” he said. 
 
The agreement raises wages for the lowest paid workers, whose basic salary is less than 12,500 rand ($1,180) by 1,000 rand ($95) a month for two years, and by 950 rand in the third year.

The workers had originally demanded basic wages be increased to 12,500 rand -- which would have represented a more-than doubling of income.

“The lowest-paid mine worker in South Africa in [the] platinum sector was 4,500 rand a month.  So, therefore, it was quite a very slight salary considering the environment in which our members are subjected to. I think it is a journey that one has to walk until such time that our members realize better working conditions,” Mathunjwa said.

Mathunjwa described the agreement as a breakthrough.

“We’ve managed to unshackle ourselves from this slave-wage structure that came long from colonization to the last 20 years of our democracy that hasn’t been challenged. So, it’s a breakthrough. We are on the right path toward decent salary and decent working conditions in the mining industry,” he said.

He called on the South African government to re-examine its industrialization and wage policies to ensure an equitable distribution of the country’s wealth.

“I think it is proper that they should look at this policy that doesn’t address the inequality that was created more than 300 years ago. Even in our dispensation from 1994, the pay structure that was designed for black workers was never challenged and it was never changed. So, therefore, it is incumbent on the government to look at the industrialization policy by equally distributing the wealth of the country,” Mathunjwa said.

The three platinum companies, Anglo-American Platinum, Lonmin and Impala Platinum, signed the wage agreement Tuesday.  Lonmin CEO Ben Magara warned a restructuring of his company was inevitable and hinted that could result in job losses.  The three companies lost a combined 24-billion rand ($2.27 billion) in revenue.

Butty interview with Mathunjwa
Butty interview with Mathunjwai
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs