Miners paid ‘sweat-shop wages’ – minister

2012-09-10 12:06

North West Premier Thandi Modise has said she hoped that negotiations at Lonmin’s Karee mine in Marikana would result in the improvement of the mine workers’ wages.

Modise said this while addressing the Mpumalanga ANC Youth League Cadres’ Assembly in Nelspruit yesterday. She was invited in her capacity as ANC deputy secretary.

Modise, who shared the stage with ANCYL acting president Ronald Lamola, said that in other countries, miners worked under better conditions.

She made an example of Canada where, she said, mine workers were given enough time to see their families while in South Africa they went home once a year.

“Even though there’s a commission of inquiry that must get into other things, one can just hope that a solution on the improvement of salaries of the miners is reached,” Modise said.

“In Canada, they told us, our miners work for one week and they go home for family leave the next week.

“In South Africa they extract (minerals), they pay sweat(-shop) wages and miners can afford to go home once a year and sometimes never carry a salary, which can tie the family for three months.

“And, we’re supposed to be happy as government to be the middleman for this sweat shop?” she asked.

Modise also decried the fact that in her mineral-rich province, communities were not benefiting from the minerals that were extracted from their land.

“This is despite what we said we would enact ... what did we say? ... beneficiation and all those nice words have not actually helped those communities where mining is taking place,” she added.

Meanwhile, Sapa reported that early attendance figures at Lonmin’s shafts crept up to 6.34% today.

“Attendance today is 6.34%,” Lonmin spokesperson Sue Vey was quoted as saying.

In terms of a peace accord signed last week, employees were expected to return to work today, and talks between the company and unions were to resume.

Work stopped at the mine on August 10.

Earlier, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which did not sign the accord, said it would participate in today’s negotiations, but could not guarantee that its members would return to work.

The National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity, UASA and Lonmin management agreed to the peace accord early on Thursday morning to level the ground for wage negotiations.

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