Marikana miners lower salary demands

Rustenburg - The striking miners at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine have for the first time lowered their salary demands, the mediator in the dispute said on Monday.

"We have been mandated to negotiate on a specific figure. The workers are not married to the R12 500 monthly salary, Bishop Jo Seoka, president of the South African Council of Churches, said.

Seoka's comments came after a meeting in a stadium with 2 000 miners on Monday afternoon that was authorised by police and took place without incident.

He said he could not disclose the figure before they tabled it at negotiations with mining giant Lonmin [JSE:LON] set to resume on Monday.

"We hope the news will be better than this tomorrow [Tuesday]," he said, adding that should an agreement be reached, the miners would return to work on Tuesday.

The miners were reportedly prepared to accept a monthly salary of R11 000, according to news channel eNCA. The strikers claim they currently earn about R4 000 per month.

Earlier Seoka had pleaded with the striking miners to lower their monthly salary demand.

"You must give us a mandate to go a little bit down," he told them, while insisting it should not be to the level that would hurt them.

The bishop had been called in to help with the mining crisis after police last month shot dead 34 strikers taking part in the wildcat strike which began at Marikana on 10 August.

The unrest has claimed a total 45 lives and spread to strikes at other mines, leading to a police clampdown in a bid to restore order and salvage the country's lucrative mining sector.

On Friday the miners rejected Lonmin's first offer to break the deadlock at Marikana. They claimed Lonmin offered an entry level hike of R986.

President Jacob Zuma warned earlier on Monday that the gold and platinum mines have lost R4.5bn to forced stoppages this year, which could push the country into recession.

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