Mining task force to be set up

2012-08-18 22:31
A woman holds a placard as she protests against the police shooting of miners at the Lonmin mine near Rustenburg. (File,AP)

A woman holds a placard as she protests against the police shooting of miners at the Lonmin mine near Rustenburg. (File,AP)

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Johannesburg - A task force will be set up to look into labour issues in the platinum industry after 34 people were killed near the Lonmin mine in Marikana, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said on Saturday.

The force will consist of people from industry, unions, government and traditional leaderships, she said.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) would be invited to give input to the task force.

On Friday, Amcu said it was a recognised trade union at Lonmin with 7000 members, most of them at Lonmin's Karee mine.

It had about 30 000 members nationally.

On Thursday, police opened fire on striking workers, some of them armed, while trying to disperse them after a week of violent protests.

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The police ministry said 78 others were injured and 259 arrested.

Protesters wanted higher wages.

On Saturday, Shabangu was speaking at the close of a day-long meeting with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity, Lonmin, Chamber of Mines and other mining companies. The departments of mineral resources and labour co-ordinated the meeting.

Amcu was excluded from it.

Shabangu said this was because the meeting was part of an existing forum that Amcu was not a part of, adding that it was an unknown player in the industry.

"We are not aware of where it [Amcu] operates in the mining industry," Shabangu said.

Image damaged

"It was never our intention of marginalising Amcu."

Shabangu said the killing of the striking mineworkers had caused damage to the country's image, particularly the mining sector.

"It is going to impact the country negatively, especially the mining sector," Shabangu said.

Lonmin's chief financial officer Simon Scott dismissed claims that the company had been "arrogant" when dealing with the public over the mine's labour troubles.

"It's been a difficult week for use," Scott said.

"It was not our intention to be arrogant."

'Events took over'


Shabangu said another priority was to ensure workers felt safe when they returned to work.

The minister dismissed suggestions that government had moved too slowly to deal with the situation at Lonmin. She said government interventions had happened behind closed doors.

"It's not true. We've been engaging. [But] we've not been engaging in the public space," she said.

Shabangu and NUM general secretary Frans Baleni said a meeting had been scheduled between the relevant parties, including Amcu, for Friday, a day after the shooting.

"Unfortunately, events took over."

Read more on:    amcu  |  num  |  lonmin  |  susan shabangu  |  protests  |  mining unrest  |  labour  |  mining

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