Protesters 'not impressed' by Lonmin offer

By Drum Digital
14 September 2012

Protesting mineworkers at Lonmin's Marikana mine in Rustenburg were unimpressed by the proposed pay increase tabled by their employer, a leader of the strikers said on Friday.

Loyiso Mtsheketshe, a member of the protesting workers' committee said the mineworkers were not going to budge.

"For us nothing has changed, we are still where we were. The workers want R12,500 and nothing is going to change [that]," he said.

"If the employers say they are not going to give us R12,500, I can tell you that we are not going anywhere. We are going to be here until we get what we want," said Mtsheketshe.

The workers had been briefed by their task team about the offer tabled by Lonmin on Thursday evening. Lonmin reportedly offered the striking workers a R900 increase to R5500 a month for entry-level workers.

Before noon, workers dispersed from the open space they have occupied near the hill where 34 people were killed following violence on August 16. Some sat in small groups under the sweltering sun, chatting.

Mtsheketshe said the workers would be briefed again later on Thursday on the developments around the negotiations.

"Those who are going now will come back. They will come and listen to another report from our task team selected by the workers," Mtsheketshe said.

He was not willing to give finer details about the Lonmin offer, only saying it was not what the workers expected.

Earlier, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said the offer made by Lonmin was "very far" from the workers' demand of R12,500.

General Secretary Frans Baleni told the BBC World Service that he was unsure how workers would respond to the company's proposal.

"Lonmin is offering to adjust the rate of entry-level [workers] from R4600 towards R5500, an increase of about R900. Then all operators will be upgraded, by one grade up," he said.

"It's very far. We will hear how workers are responding to the offer, given that negotiation is give and take."

Baleni said he was unsure of how rival union, Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), would respond.

"It will depend if they are really pragmatic and willing to look at the interests of those workers, as well as the interests of our economy. We hope every player in these negotiations will take that into account," Baleni told the BBC.

Workers at the Lonmin mine have been on an illegal strike for four weeks, demanding a salary of R12,500.

Last month, the protest turned violent and police shot dead 34 protesters and injured 78. A total of 45 people have been killed in incidents related to the strike.

Baleni said he was worried about job losses in the platinum sector and said 4,800 jobs had already been lost due to illegal strikes.

He was also worried about violence and intimidation during these labour disputes.

Baleni said the labour unrest spreading throughout mines in the North West was being orchestrated for political reasons.

"Clearly this is a co-ordinated and orchestrated approach, and we have a firm belief that it has political undertones. Certain people are using mineworkers to advance their political goals."

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