Praise for Amcu, religious leaders in Marikana

2012-09-19 12:07

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa received a thunderous welcome at a packed Wonderkop stadium in Marikana where thousands of striking Lonmin workers met to accept a wage deal.

Mathunjwa arrived at the venue just after noon today, and told workers he had just come to greet them because “under the current state of emergency” he was not allowed to address them.

He took a swipe at the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), saying he did not need armed guards to come to the workers, unlike what he termed “yellow communists” who preach the language of ending poverty but choke on chunks of meat washed down with red wine.

Last night, Lonmin and a delegation of trade unions, an independent worker’s union led by the SA Council of Churches (SACC), agreed on a 22% wage deal which will see the lowest paid worker earning R 9 611 while the highest will be paid R13 022.

The workers gathered at Wonderkop stadium earlier today, to formally accept the offer.

It was relatively calm today, after six weeks of tension and violence that saw the deaths of 45 people.

Mathunjwa said the union will establish a trust fund to help support the families of the workers who had died during the strike violence.

Workers expressed delight at finally being able to return to work tomorrow.

They thanked the SACC delegation, led by Bishop Jo Seoka, for helping during the negotiations, while at the same time voicing their displeasure at the NUM.

“This sort of increase would have taken us 15 years to achieve under a union,” said one worker.

As Mathunjwa concluded his address, one worker was heard shouting: “This place is yours, you have taken it!”

Workers burst into song at the conclusion of the meeting: “Sibatshelile e Lonmin ukuthi iyeza iAmcu!” (We warned them at Lonmin, that Amcu is coming).

It was not immediately clear if the workers would now join Amcu (Association of Mineworkers and Constructution Union) en masse, but indications are that the union has won the upper hand since the strike started on August 10, with membership forms and T-shirts being distributed at meetings.

Some of the conditions of the wage agreement include: that workers who participated or played a leading role in the strike will not be intimidated and that those workers who are still in jail or hospital will keep their jobs once they are released or discharged.

However, the workers have made it clear they are still determined to get their initial demand of R12 500 for the lowest paid worker in two years’ time.

» Read City Press on Sunday for more from Lucas Ledwaba in Marikana

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