'R12 500' strike spreads to second mine
There was a production standstill at shafts owned by two of the biggest mining companies operating in South Africa on Tuesday as the call for miners' pay to be increased to R12,500 spread.
At Gold Fields KDC West, near Carletonville, instead of heeding a Labour Court interdict to return to their posts, striking workers flocked to a stadium to hear expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema speak.
He called for a national mine strike and the removal of union leadership.
"There must be a national strike at all the mines until [National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) general secretary] Frans Baleni and the NUM leadership step down with immediate effect," Malema said.
On Sunday, 75 percent of the 15,000 people working at the gold mine downed tools. One of their demands was that the NUM's branch leadership be removed.
"The problem is not NUM. The problem is the leadership who take money from mlungu [whites]," said Malema, who was ushered in by a singing, chanting crowd when he arrived in a black SUV.
Malema said the R12,500 salary workers wanted "is a reality".
He said people had been stealing gold from the workers. "Now you want a piece of gold. You want R12,500."
He said workers should strike for five days a month "until they listen".
Before his address, the NUM said it had not received complaints about the branch before.
Comment could not immediately be obtained from the NUM or Gold Fields after the address.
Workers went to a hostel for a meeting after Malema's talk, and returned to a field later.
Workers told reporters: "We are not going to give them any production [if they don't respond with the increase]."
Meanwhile, at Lonmin, only three percent of its 28,000-strong workforce at Rustenburg turned up on Tuesday, as a strike there entered its second month.
Unions and the company had hoped to see a return to the negotiating table on Monday, even though workers had not met the precondition that they return to their posts.
However, representatives of a splinter group did not arrive.
A meeting was held at the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration's office's in Rustenburg on Tuesday with the employer representatives and clergymen.
The CCMA did not want to provide further details.
Trade union Solidarity said that, typically, in a prolonged strike, workers would have to approach their creditors to explain why they could not pay their bills.
However, the Gift of the Givers charity was distributing food to workers at Lonmin.
According to an employee representative, there was chaos at one of the distributions.
Further afield, mine management at Impala Platinum Holdings said it would consider the demands of a group of workers which wanted a second pay hike in six months.
"Our overriding imperative in this process is to ensure peace, order and stability. We believe that current tensions are an issue for the entire industry," chief executive Terence Goodlace said in a statement.
The company met the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union-aligned Interim Workers' Committee (IWC) on Monday to discuss its demands.
Outside the mining industry, Eskom's Medupi power station in Lephalale village in Limpopo was closed on Tuesday following a protest by a group of disgruntled contract workers.
The workers began protesting because the contracts of about 600 local employees were due to end.
Medupi is expected to start generating power for the national grid next year.