JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The core issues of what led to the Marikana killings two weeks ago should be dealt with before a peace accord is signed, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) president Joseph Mathunjwa said on Friday.
Following the death of 34 two weeks ago during a clash with the South African Police Service (SAPS) at the Lonmin Marikana mine, near Rustenburg, the government, unions and the mining company called for a peace accord.
Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, the Council for the Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, the South African Council of Churches (SACC), Lonmin, the Chamber of Mines, AMCU, the National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity and the United Association of South Africa, besides others, started meetings to broker the peace accord on Wednesday. These were expected to continue on Monday.
However, AMCU said it was concerned that a peace accord was being pursued without a focus on the demands of the striking workers and claimed that Lonmin would not engage employees without an accord in place.
The striking workers reportedly stated that they would not return to work until their demands of a minimum basic salary of R12 500 have been met.
Lonmin on Friday reported that the attendance of its workers across all the mines shaft's fell to 5.7%.
Further, Mathunjwa believed that, unless a centralised bargaining structure dealt with the underlying social issues in the mining community and aimed to eradicate poverty, instead of supporting an unequal pay structure, the implementation of collective bargaining would not be successful in the platinum sector. He pointed to the deep divide between the salaries of top management and the salaries of general workers, and the system favouring the employers and not the workers.
A centralised bargaining system was currently at work within the gold-mining and coal-mining industries, which the union said did not work for the communities, as it was not improving their social conditions.
Mathunjwa commented that the striking workers were not interested in signing the peace accord, as “they were not at war with anyone”. AMCU noted in its presentation to the media that, if a peace accord was required, it should remain between the workers, the company and the police services, as the unions were not clashing.
He further criticised the way the peace accord process was proceeding, describing it as a “power play” between the parties, and said that the SACC saw it as “divide and rule” tactic used by the old apartheid government in oppressing the nation.
While AMCU was initially involved in the proceedings, Mathunjwa said the union was excluded in the final meeting after not being called to return after the discussions were adjourned on Thursday.
Webber Wentzel head of Africa mining and energy projects Peter Leon said on Thursday that the events that unfolded at Lonmin’s mine should result in a closer look at the current state of the South African mining industry and how to build a better, more inclusive and sustainable industry.