Striking workers arrested at Glencore coal mine

Johannesburg - Fifty seven striking workers were arrested during a violent strike over wages at a coal mine owned by Glencore [JSE:GLN], the company and police said on Tuesday.

The three-week long strike by 160 members of Association of Mine workers and Construction Union (Amcu) at Glencore's Wonderfontein coal mine in the eastern Mpumalanga province turned violent, with workers intimidating other employees and damaging nearby farms.

Police spokesperson Kwapa Macdonald said those arrested were released on bail. Strikers were at the mine on Wednesday singing and protesting but were observing picketing orders, she said.

Wonderfontein Coal mine is a joint venture between Glencore and Shanduka Group, which was founded by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. The mine produces 3.6 million tonnes annually.

"While the first week of the strike was fairly peaceful, the strike has turned increasingly violent in the past two weeks, resulting in the obtaining of a court order against Amcu and its members to desist from acts of violence at the mine," Glencore said in a statement.

Amcu was unavailable for comment, but their official Twitter feed confirmed that a strike at the mine was underway.

Amcu also plans a strike due to start on Wednesday at Sibanye Gold to demand higher wages.

Amcu to strike against Sibanye

Amcu is also planning to strike against Sibanye Gold [JSE:SGL] on Wednesday over a wage hike increase. “We will put Sibanye Gold to a standstill on Wednesday when we commence with the strike,” Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa told mineworkers at Driefontein on Sunday. “Afternoon shift on Wednesday should not clock in for work."

Sibanye said it is adamant that Amcu's demands for a wage hike will not materialise.

The mine confirmed on Monday that Amcu served the company with notice to strike over wage negotiations. "In terms of the notice, Amcu members will embark on protected industrial action from afternoon shift, Wednesday, 6 April 2016," it said in a statement.

The decision comes after a court said the union not protest a three-year wage agreement that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and the United Association of SA signed with Sibanye.

Sibanye Gold said Amcu's plans to down tools are unfortunate, particularly after the deal reached with the three other representative unions at Sibanye in October 2015.

- Additional reporting from Fin24.

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