S Africa – Lonmin miners defiant over return to work call

Mail and Guardian 

Tensions look set to reignite at Lonmin platinum mine as striking workers vow to defy demands by the company to return to work or face dismissal.

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“Its better to die than to work for that shit. People are coming back here tomorrow [Monday]. I am not going to stop striking,” Thandubuntu Simelane*, one of the rock drill operators told the Mail & Guardian on Sunday.

Last week 34 people were killed and 78 were wounded in a shootout between police and miners in Marikana, Rustenburg.

The majority of those killed are understood to have been involved in illegal industrial action at the mine after rock drillers affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) demanded their monthly salary of R4 000 be increased to R12 500.

While the exact reasons behind the shooting remain unclear, Lonmin management have ordered all workers to return to work on Monday.

“The way to get stability back into the system is to get back to work,” chief financial officer Simon Scott – the face of the company while its CEO is in hospital – said on the sidelines of an emergency conference of mining stakeholders called by Mining Minister Susan Shabangu in Johannesburg.

It would seem the company had not managed to communicate this message to its workers though.

“We are going to protest until we get what we want, Simelane added, still cradling a knobkerrie and panga as he spoke.

“They have said nothing to us. Police can try and kill us but we won’t move.” Read more…

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