Lonmin strike deal welcomed

By Drum Digital
19 September 2012

Cosatu welcomed the end of the protracted strike at Lonmin in a statement on Wednesday.

"We hope that peace and safety will now be restored to the mine and the surrounding communities," said the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), whose affiliate the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) had been publicly criticised by many of the mineworkers on strike.

The strike ended on Tuesday evening, when workers and the company reached a pay agreement.

"While Cosatu has consistently condemned the murders and the intimidation of workers who did not join the strike, we have at the same time recognised that the rock-drill operators and other mineworkers are entitled to a substantial wage increase and better working conditions," it said.

It hoped other companies would make offers similar to the 22 percent increase reportedly agreed to between Lonmin, the unions and workers' representatives, and thus avoid a repetition of the events at Marikana.

The strike went on for almost six weeks and 45 people died in events associated with it -- 34 of them were killed when police opened fire on them.

Cosatu urged workers who had left the NUM to return and help build "an even stronger and more united union".

Cosatu said the challenge now was to make sure the terms of the agreement were honoured.

It supported the call for a centralised bargaining unit in the platinum industry.

The Congress of the People (Cope)'s labour spokesman Papi Kganare congratulated workers on having understood that the negotiation process was a "mutual give and take".

Cope hoped management understood there was often a shift of loyalty among workers and their unions and it urged employees to understand that flexibility was required for labour peace.

In terms of the agreement, the lowest underground worker would now earn R9611 (up from R8164), a winch operator would earn R9883 (up from R8931), a rock drill operator would earn R11,078 (up from R9063) and a production team leader would earn R13,022 (up from R11,818).

All workers would also receive a once-off R2000 bonus and were expected to return to work on Thursday morning.

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