Striking miners take a breather, disperse

2012-02-18 14:25

Johannesburg - Most of the workers striking at the Impala Platinum mine in Rustenburg have dispersed for the weekend, North West police said on Saturday.

"There is nothing new at the mine. I think the workers have probably all gone home for the weekend, " said Brigadier Thulani Ngubane.

"Let's see on Monday, the strike will continue and they will all be back."

He said police maintained a heavy presence around Rustenburg to keep watch through the weekend.

Six workers were arrested on Friday after they allegedly looted a bottle store near the mine.

Ngubane said about 3 000 workers gathered at the mine on Friday morning and had intended to march to the home of the king of the Royal Bafokeng nation, Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi, to hand over a memorandum.

However, their plans were thwarted by police because they did not have permission to march.

On Thursday, the situation at the mine was hostile and tense, and more than 100 mineworkers were arrested after violent protests.

Ngubane said 500 police officers had secured the mine and succeeded in containing the violence.

The National Union of Mineworkers and management met on Friday to try and broker a deal to end the strike.

The protests began in Phokeng on Thursday, with mineworkers apparently intimidating and assaulting people trying to get to and from work in the township outside Rustenburg.

They barricaded roads heading towards Freedom Park and threw stones at cars and looted shops. The crowd also torched a satellite police station in Freedom park.

Ngubane said police were not allowed to use rubber bullets to control the crowd following a directive from the police ministry last year.

This was because of concern over the high number of injuries and at least one death associated with the use of rubber bullets for crowd control.

The mineworkers were fired after a dispute over a retention bonus and an illegal strike.

The first to be dismissed were about 5 000 rock drillers, after they refused to accept they would not get the bonus and went on an illegal strike.

The rest of the over 17 000 workers were later fired for not being at work.

Impala said it had lost production of 60 000 troy ounces (1 866kg) since the start of the strike almost a month ago.

  • Kusleg - 2012-02-18 15:00

    This must be the mine with the biggest work force in the world 17 000 + 5 000 = 22 000. The management always good at counting its losses and never minds the slave wages. A loss of only $108m in 30 days; and if these workers can make that much production in a month, what is the reason for the slave wages?

      Irene - 2012-02-18 15:29

      Maybe the job doesn't warrant over payment. Ever think of that? Suppose you think a street sweeper should earn what a rocket scientist does.

      Ken - 2012-02-18 16:37

      Let me guess your age. How about 4? Take the average monthly slave wage and multiply by 22000. Now take the monthly wage of the people required to manage\assist these 22000 slaves. Next take the cost of use of machinery\tools\head gear\air\transport air supply\water\refining the lumps of earth. Income tax\royalties tax and so on. Its Production cost NOT PROFIT. If you think you can do better, grab a shovel and start digging.

  • Sharon - 2012-02-18 15:07

    @ News 24 - they are unemployed, not striking!! And rioting must seem to be like work, and they don't work on weekends.

  • Ken - 2012-02-18 15:29

    Weekend shebeens + soccer come Monday back to rioting

  • Shirley - 2012-02-18 15:43

    Oh boo hoo-be grateful you have a job and stop destroying other peoples property! You have just caused innocent people to lose more than your supposed bonus!

  • acsteyn - 2012-02-18 17:18

    It would be more interesting to know what percentage of these employees are South Africans? If there would be anything to LEGALLY strike about it would be employing foreigners over jobless South Africans. But perhaps that horse bolted when JZ allowed 4,5 million Zimbabweans into SA when 4 million South Africans were already joless. What to do now? When will be shrug off this shrowed of owing people favours whilst I was in exile? Stupid eh?

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