News / Africa

South Africa Platinum Miners Welcome Deal

Striking miners dance and cheer after they were informed of a 22 percent wage increase offer outside Lonmin's Marikana mine, 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, September 18, 2012.
Striking miners dance and cheer after they were informed of a 22 percent wage increase offer outside Lonmin's Marikana mine, 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, September 18, 2012.
Anita Powell
South Africa platinum giant Lonmin says it brokered a deal with workers late Tuesday after more than a month of illegal, violent strikes that stunned the nation and the platinum industry. Workers are slated to return to work Thursday. 

After nearly six weeks of illegal strikes, under the looming threat of dismissal for the unsanctioned action, workers at Lonmin's Marikana township platinum mine agreed to less than the $1,500 a month they had demanded.

The company had said that wage demand was unaffordable.

A statement from Lonmin says the agreement late Tuesday gave workers a signing bonus of about $250 and raises ranging from 11 to 22 percent.

Striker Gilbert Temo, who is a general worker at the mine, says he’s happy with the deal and looking forward to returning to work on Thursday.

The 25-year-old says that under the deal, he’ll see a paycheck of nearly $1,200 before taxes.  He says the more experienced rock drill operators who were the force behind the strike will get as much as $1,300, pre-tax.

“Yeah, I am happy because, man, I was so, so, so broke.  So yeah, people are happy, even also the [rock drill] operators,” said Temo.

But Lonmin’s acting chief executive Simon Scott said in a statement that the agreement is “only one step in a long and difficult process.”

Rehad Desai of the Marikana Solidarity Campaign says the settlement was a victory, but that his campaign still aims to bring justice to the families of 45 people who were killed in strike-related violence.  That includes 34 protesters shot dead by police on August 16 after workers massed outside the Marikana mine.  Police have said they fired in self-defense; investigations are ongoing.

(Click to view the photo gallery)

x
  • An unidentified woman chants as she protests against the police opening fire and killing striking mine workers a day earlier at the Lonmin Platinum Mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, August 17, 2012.
  • Members of a South African police crime unit investigate the scene of the shooting of miners at the Lonmin mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, August 17, 2012.
  • An unidentified woman cries as she protests against the police opening fire and killing striking mine workers a day earlier at the Lonmin Platinum Mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, August 17, 2012.
  • A policeman fires at protesting miners outside a South African mine in Rustenburg, August 16, 2012.
  • Policemen fire at striking miners outside a South African mine in Rustenburg, August 16, 2012.
  • A miner runs as police shoot outside a South African mine in Rustenburg, August 16, 2012.
  • Policemen in teargas and dust open fire on striking miners at the Lonmin Platinum Mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, August 16, 2012.
  • Police open fire on striking miners at the Lonmin Platinum Mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, August 16, 2012.
  • A paramedic (front L) receives help from a policewomen as he tends to the injured after protesting miners were shot outside a South African mine in Rustenburg, August 16, 2012.

(Click to view the photo gallery)

“It’s been a long strike, it’s been six weeks, but while the strike is over, the campaign to get justice is just beginning,” he said.

Desai says the strike has been a “huge wake-up call” for the nation and has shown South Africa’s democracy to be fragile.

Sinethemba Zonke is an analyst with Africa Practice, a business and government consultancy firm. He says the Lonmin miners’ success could inspire workers at other mines.  Striking workers at Anglo American Platinum told local media Wednesday that they hope they can push their employer to pay them more.

Zonke also says the strike could widen existing fissures in society and politics -- which could threaten the ruling African National Congress.  The party has won every major election since 1994, making the nation effectively a one-party state.

“As you have seen, once again, this settlement has come without the involvement, in a way, of the main union NUM (the National Union of Mineworkers), which is affiliated to the ANC.  This shows that maybe the ANC itself might be not the vanguard of the people as it has highlighted itself to be,” said Zonke.

A group of top ministers appointed by the government said they welcomed the deal.  But Minister to the Presidency Collins Chabane said in the statement that “there are lessons to be drawn from this experience.”

As a major ANC party conference approaches in December, it is clear those lessons will be at the forefront of discussions.

You May Like

Conflicts Engulf Christians in Mideast

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Chinese Americans: Don’t Call Us 'Model Minority'

Label points to collective achievement, but some say it triggers resentment, unrealistic expectations More

Iran Bolsters Phone, Internet Surveillance

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Polish Ghetto

When the Nazi army moved into the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid