Happy days for Marikana miners

2014-06-25 10:43

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Hugs and handshakes were plentiful as jubilant miners on the platinum belt greeted and welcomed each other back at work this morning.

Team leaders and supervisors were seen shaking hands with each of the few hundred miners who had been in a queue snaking out of Lonmin’s Rowland Shaft in Marikana from as early as 5.30am.

For the first time in five months, familiar scenes played themselves out as miners moved towards the shafts in the early morning. There were also buses driving up and down, ferrying more workers to work.

Everyone looked happy and in high spirits.

Some were singing in groups as they got off buses bringing them from different hostels and settlements around the area to their shafts.

Others came dressed in full work gear: gumboots, overalls and knee caps, but none of them were going to go underground today.

All miners were scheduled to undergo medical check-ups before reporting to their workstations. Lonmin had organised tents at Wonderkop Stadium as well as sports field at Karee Hostel, where miners were queuing to undergo medical assessments this morning.

Lonmin spokesperson Sue Vey said real work was expected to only begin in three weeks.

“Medical check-ups will take about three weeks to process everyone and more workers were still travelling from home. The three weeks will also cover induction and retraining of workers because safety is our priority. We also have to ensure that working areas are well secured underground before anyone can be sent down there,” Vey said.

Back in Marikana, business was still slow with a number of shops closed. The area was expected to come to life again as soon as miners get their back-pay, which platinum producers have promised they would have in about seven days.

Miners were expected to get about R4 000 or less in back-pay accumulated from October to January 22.

Miners downed tools on January 23 and agreed to go back to work on Monday.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa finally signed a three-year wage agreement with platinum producers yesterday.

When they finally get their monthly salaries, low-end salary miners will get an extra R1 000 as part of the new wage agreement.

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