S Africa – Lonmin mine idle although some workers return

BBC

Workers have trickled back to the South African platinum mine where police shot dead 34 striking workers last Thursday, but not in enough numbers to resume operations, its owners said.

Striking workers outside the Lonmin mine. 20 Aug 2012

Lonmin said the Marikana mine reopened but no ore was produced after fewer than a third of staff turned up.

It also said a deadline for striking miners to return to work or face dismissal had been extended to Tuesday.

President Jacob Zuma declared a week of national mourning for those killed.

He has also called for a commission of inquiry to investigate the incident.

Memorial service

“Lonmin can confirm that work at its Marikana operations resumed today as significant numbers of employees returned to work,” the company said in a statement.

“Almost one third of the 28,000-strong workforce reported for their morning shifts.

“The company can also announce that those illegal strikers who did not return to work this morning will not be dismissed and have been allowed an extra day in light of current circumstances.”

Later, Lonmin executive vice-president for mining Mark Munroe said that “for all intents and purposes” no ore had been produced at the mine on Monday.

“By 07:00 tomorrow (05:00 GMT) we expect workers to return to work. After that, Lonmin has the right to fire them,” he said.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

They can fire us if they want, we are not going back to work. [President] Zuma must shut down that mine”

Striking miner at Marikana

Lonmin chief financial officer Simon Scott said the company wanted to “rebuild the trust of the workers”.

“We are aware that it will take some time for some trust to be regained,” he added.

Union officials quoted by Reuters said that at least 80% of the workforce was needed to bring platinum out of the shafts.

The BBC’s Nomsa Maseko in Johannesburg says it remains to be seen whether more workers will report for duty on Tuesday.  Read more…

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