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South African Miners Agree to End Strike, Return to Work Thursday

Striking Lonmin Platinum miners gather in Marikana, South Africa, where a new wage offer was rejected, Sept. 14, 2012.
Striking mine workers at South Africa’s Lonmin platinum mine late Tuesday signed an agreement to end their deadly five-week-old strike.

According to the deal reached Tuesday, the workers will get a 22 percent pay increase and a one-time cash payment of $250 to compensate for lost wages.

Kurt Swart, assistant news editor at the South African News Agency, said the miners are pleased with the deal and they are expected to return to work Thursday.

“The mining company, Lonmin, and miners signed an agreement which means the end of the strike at its Marikana mine in the northwest. Workers are expected to be back at work on Thursday,” he said.

The strike had political and economic implications. Even Zuma said the strike was costing the country at least $500 million in lost revenue.

Swart said, although the miners did not get everything they asked for, they were satisfied with the deal.

“The workers appeared to be very, very happy with their wage increase. Rock drill operators who were demanding 12,500 rand [$1,500] a month are now getting 11,078 rand [$1,385] before deductions,” Swart said.

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Swart said the country has set up a commission of inquiry to look into the August shooting.

“There’s a commission of inquiry into the violence at the mines last month in which 34 workers were shot dead apparently by police. But, the country’s main trade union federation - COSATU - is also demanding a second commission of inquiry which they would like to focus on the economic and social aspect of the mining sector in South Africa,” Swart said.