Striking miners claim victory after new offer
After weeks of a deadly Lonmin platinum mine strike in Marikana, which resulted in the deaths of 45 people, workers return to work tomorrow after securing increases.
Thousands of striking workers gathered at the local Wonderkop stadium in song yesterday and accepted the employer's 22% final wage offer, ending the deadly strike.
The strike cost the company millions of rand and forced the closure of its K4 shaft. This resulted in the cancellation of a contract with construction company Murray & Roberts, which provided 1200 workers to the mine.
The striking workers had moved down from their initial R12500 demand but refused to make public the revised offer - which is reportedly about R11000.
The wage offer will see rock-drill operators earning a basic salary of R11078, up from R6295.
The management has also increased the once-off bonus promised to workers, if they went back to work, from R1500 to R2000, as a start-up package for basic necessities after staying over a month without a salary, forcing them to go to loan sharks.
The South African Council of Churches' Bishop Joe Seoka, who was part of the workers' negotiating team, told the joyous workers that they were trying to get Lonmin's management to commit to offering the R12500 in two years after production has returned to normality.
He said management said this (22%) was a final offer and "we saw it fit for workers to accept the offer to avoid job losses. The latest offer is not that far from what the workers wanted".
Seoka said there were wage negotiations pending in October next year, when workers will likely get between 9% and 12% wage increases.
The bishop said this was victory for workers.
One of the striking miners, Bonginkosi Mlamo, said: "It is not what we wanted but it is much better than nothing. We are going back to work."
After the announcement, the thrilled workers carried Zolisa Bodlani, one of the leading figures in the strike, on their shoulders for a job well done.
Mine buses ferried workers to hostels after the meeting, signalling an end to the impasse that grabbed the world's attention.