Strike Nation: Amplats strikers want Zuma’s help

2012-10-06 21:13

Striking Anglo Platinum (Amplats) workers have warned President Jacob Zuma to be “very, very careful” when it comes to the volatile situation around Rustenberg’s mines.

In an interview with City Press, strike leader George Tyobeka urged Zuma to personally come to Rustenburg and deal with the situation.

“Zuma must make sure he directs our employer to listen to our representations as workers,” said Tyobeka.

Speaking shortly after the elected committee of strike representatives addressed more than 1 000 striking miners yesterday, Tyobeka said the strikers would “not tolerate” dismissals.

Amplats announced on Friday that it had dismissed 12 000 of its workers who have taken part in an unprotected three-week strike.

Yesterday, Tyobeka said: “If they (Amplats) dismissed the 12 000, we will ensure the replacements of the 12 000 ... where will they work?”

Tyobeka said the committee representing the protesting strikers was formed because they had “lost faith” in unions.

The miners are demanding a monthly salary of R16 070 before deductions.

After the meeting, which concluded peacefully, the strikers marched to a nearby koppie where 47-year-old miner Qakamba Mtshunquleni was shot on Thursday night.

Miners presented a copy of his ID document to the media.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate is investigating Mtshunquleni’s death after strikers accused police of shooting him.

News of the death on Thursday night of a National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) branch secretary in nearby Marikana has also unsettled workers.

The NUM has not named the man, who they say was shot dead at his home in Marikana on Thursday, and police had not confirmed
the shooting at the time of going to press.

Workers at Amplats have lashed out at the NUM, saying the union has neglected workers’ demands.

One man, who only identified himself as Mbobo, said workers were losing faith in unions, referring to the NUM as a “stumbling block” to wage negotiations.

Non-striking workers and “scab” labourers have also borne the brunt of strikers’ anger.

At an illegal gathering that took place in full view of police on Thursday afternoon, strike leaders pleaded with workers not to harm “amagundwane” (scab labour), but rather convince them to stay away from work.

Mametlwe Sebei from the Democratic Socialist Movement, the group responsible for coordinating all industrial action in the area, blamed “scab” labour for Mtshunquleni’s death.

On Friday night, calm returned to the informal settlements around the mining town, but strike leaders told City Press they were holding secret meetings where they urged strikers not to vent their anger at workers or mine property after strikers threatened to set shafts alight.

The workers currently earn about R11 000 a month.

They are demanding allowances of R30 for lunch per day, R100 for transport, a R1 500 safety bonus each month and a basic salary of R10 000.

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