Dundee march peaceful

2012-11-03 00:00

OVER 300 striking miners from the Magdalena and Aviemore mines in Dannhauser held a peaceful march to the Dundee town hall yesterday to hand a memorandum over to their employer.

The mine’s general manager, Kevin Mattison, failed to attend and the document was accepted and signed by Endumeni Mayor Thulani Mahaye.

National Union of Mineworkers’ (NUM) regional secretary Bongani Manyoni was angry that Mattison didn’t arrive.

“He has lied to us and said he is at a funeral in Johannesburg,” Manyoni claimed, adding that Mattison was present at the meeting where they were given permission to hold the march.

“The employer is undermining us.”

After word of his failure to arrive filtered through to the workers, some could be heard saying: “He must be arrested” and “That means we will sleep here until he comes”.

According to James Duncan of Russell and Associates, the company that handles Forbes Coal’s public relations, there had never been an agreement that Mattison would be present to accept the memorandum.

Duncan said that during the two-week strike, workers had broken a number of “picketing rules”, agreed upon before it began.

“There has been intimidation of people who wanted to go to work, damage to property, including arson,” he told Weekend Witness.

He said the mine had been shut down, and would remain so until striking workers gave an undertaking that the strike would continue according to the “rules”.

The march, which took place along Victoria Street in the town of Dundee, was without incident.

On Tuesday, two workers died after being shot by guards from Mbube security, and on Thursday, police fired tear gas to disperse miners who had blockaded a road.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said no incidents were reported yesterday.

One of the miners’ demands in the memorandum was the removal of Mbube Security, and the arrest of those who were responsible for killing their colleagues.

They also demanded a pay increase of R3 000 to R7 000 plus a housing allowance of R756.

The company had initially offered them an increase of 8,5%.

Cosatu’s provincial secretary Zet Luzipho said he would seek a meeting with Safety MEC Willies Mchunu to ask that workers and the employer be afforded the same protection by police.

“We will say to Mchunu: ‘If the workers are on strike, you don’t protect the employer, but everyone concerned’. Where were the police when the workers were being shot?”

Accepting the memorandum, mayor Mahaye expressed his disappointment at the mine management’s failure to show, and said they would get in touch with them.

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