Workers themselves, under the strain of not working and earning for six weeks, have accepted Lonmin’s latest offer – an increase from R8 164 to R9 486 for general workers, R8 931 to R9 883 for loco operators, R9 063 to R11 078 for rock drill operators and R11 818 to R13 022 for production team leaders.
The offer includes a basic salary, a housing allowance of about R1 800 and medical aid, excluding any bonuses.
And now the mineworkers are meeting to establish how “we’re going to cancel NUM in Lonmin”. They claim the union failed to represent their interests, which forced the workers to talk directly with the employers. There is a strong feeling that NUM members will decamp and move to join the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the NUM’s new rival.
Bishop Jo Seoka, speaking on behalf of the mineworkers, said it was important to accept the offer, as Lonmin was threatening to dismiss them if they did not accept. He said the increment across the board was 22 percent, adding that “no union has ever successfully fought for more than 20 percent”.
“They gave us something close to what we were looking for and said if we accept, we must get back to work on Thursday. What’s even greater news is that another round of negotiations is due in October, where unions will negotiate for another increase of around 12 percent,” Seoka said.
If they go back to work tomorrow, the workers will get a once-off payment of R1 500 on Friday, followed by another R2 000 next week. Thousands of workers left the stadium singing and dancing.
“This is not what we were looking for, but it is much better than what we were being paid,” said striking workers’ leader Zolani Bodlani
Meanwhile, in its statement Amplats said it considered it was now safe for employees to return to their jobs but acknowledged that “many mining employees are still to return to work”.
It said smelting and other processing operations at Rustenburg were already at normal levels.
Amplats suspended operations in the heart of the platinum belt last week when machete-wielding strikers marched on shafts.
· * An illegal strike by 15,000 workers at the KDC West mine operated by Gold Fields, the world’s fourth largest bullion producer, continued on Tuesday as its chief executive said the firm would not agree to demands for a minimum wage of 12,500 rand a month.