Police monitor Bafokeng Platinum strike

22 August 2012 - 16:24
By Sapa
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

About 1000 workers of the Royal Bafokeng Platinum mine, outside Rustenburg staged a protest on Wednesday, demanding a salary increase of R12,500 across the board.

By noon, they were singing liberation songs about 300m away from the shaft.

Lebogang Mosito, mother of two, said the R4000 she was earning now did not meet her living expenses.

"I have two kids to take care of, I spend R850 for school transport, spend R700 for my travelling and R800 for rental -- after all this I am left with nothing," she said.

Mosito said she started working in the mine as a rock drill operator in 2007. At that time she was earning R1800.

She said the R12,500 would enable her to pay for her children's tertiary education in the near future and would improve her living conditions.

Another mine worker, Alfred Matsau, said he worked as a pulp attendant and was paid R5900 before deductions.

"I want the R12,500 so that I can improve my life," he said.

Matsau said the workers conveyed their demands and grievances to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Monday to take to the mine management.

On Tuesday, NUM called the workers into a meeting to inform them the mine intended retrenchments, Matsau said.

"We want the mine to retain the current workforce and pay us well."

North West police said they were keeping watch.

"The unarmed miners downed tools and are protesting peacefully," spokesman Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said.

"At the moment the situation is calm and there is nothing to worry about. Police believe the protesters have no plans of intimidation."

This was the second platinum mine in the province affected by protests after rock drill operators at Lonmin's platinum mine, outside Marikana, went on strike. Forty-four people were killed during violence linked to this.

The protests were believed to have been caused by rivalry between the NUM and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union over recognition agreements at the mine. Workers also wanted higher wages.

Neither the mine or NUM could be reached for comment as both were in meetings.