Labour unrest spreads

2012-09-21 11:08

Labour unrest that has struck the mining sector has spread to AngloGold Ashanti with workers there embarking on a wildcat strike, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said.

NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said the workers have downed tools and were demanding R12 500.

It is the same amount initially demanded by workers at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana who this week settled with their employer.

“We always had suspicions that this thing could spread anywhere, especially in the wake of the Marikana agreement,” Seshoka said.

NUM has sent a team to talk with the striking AngloGold workers and urge them to return back to the mine for work.

Seshoka said a wage agreement in the gold sector would have to be settled through the Chamber of Mines, not individual miners.

He said there was “no point” of going on an unprotected strike.

“Basically, the message is to return back to work as we fight to resolve their issues.”

AngloGold spokesperson Alan Fine said the workers at the Kopanang mine, near Carletonville, in western Gauteng, failed to show up for work for the night shift or morning shift.

The company had not yet received any communication from the striking workers or their representatives.

Fine said the mine had a staff of about 5 000 workers and was responsible for 4% of the company’s production.

Workers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, in North West, returned to work after a six-week long strike on Thursday, after rejecting union representation to hammer out a pay hike deal with their employer on their own.

The strike has since spread to other mines in the area, including a chrome mine, where workers also rejected union representation and chose to negotiate for themselves.

NUM said yesterday that it was worried the Lonmin deal would lead to copycat demands.

General secretary Frans Baleni said the union had been getting calls from members in the coal, platinum and gold mining sectors wanting similar increases.

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