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Strike Ends As Wage Agreement Reached At Lonmin's Marikana Mine

9/18/2012 10:51 PM ET

The striking miners at precious metals miner Lonmin Plc's (LMI.L, LNMIF.PK) Marikana platinum mine in South Africa's North West province have finally struck a deal Tuesday with the management on wages after a 39-day violent strike. The protesting miners were demanding pay rises and recognition of a new union.

The miners are said to have accepted the management's decision to hike wages by up to 22 percent, ending the six week old labor unrest that claimed 45 lives. The miners began to cheer, sing and dance after news on the settlement reached them and are expected to return to work on Thursday.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), the organization that facilitated the negotiations, confirmed the end of the Lonmin Marikana mine strike, which lasted over a month.

"Worker representatives informed us this evening that agreement has been reached, and they have signed the agreement. They have accepted Lonmin management's latest offer and will return to work on Thursday 20 September," CCMA Director Nerine Kahn said in a statement.

The miners were adamant and were demanding an across the board increase in basic wages to 12,500 rand per month.

The new wage agreement will see rock drill operators now receiving 11,078 rand per month, before deductions, the production team leaders receiving 13,022 rand per month, and operators receiving 9,883 rand per month. The workers would further receive a once-off signing bonus of 2,000 rand. The average wage rise is seen to be between 11 and 22 percent and it will be effective from October 1, 2012.

The settlement was reached after the management reached a peace deal with the union on September 6 to end the strike at the world's third largest platinum mine. The mine has been at the center of a violent pay dispute, exacerbated by tensions between rival trade unions.

However, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union or AMCU, and Marikana workers' representatives did not ink the accord. The accord, which leveled the ground for wage negotiations, also included a commitment to create a peaceful work environment.

The accord was signed by the National Union of Mineworkers or NUM, Solidarity trade union, United Association of South Africa or UASA, and the Lonmin management. AMCU refused to sign the peace accord, but were invited to the final talks.

The flash-point of the strike came when police opened fire on striking workers at the Marikana mine on August 16. Thirty-four miners were killed in the police shooting, which was the most deadly police action since South Africa became a democracy in 1994.

Following the shootings, 270 workers were arrested, including six miners who were still undergoing treatment at a hospital for injuries sustained in the shooting incident. The arrested were then charged by South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority with the murder of 34 colleagues who were shot dead.

South Africa's Justice Minister Jeff Radebe had even sought an explanation from state prosecutors for using an apartheid-era law on the 270 miners.

The Marikana platinum mine, the world's third biggest, has been at the center of a violent pay dispute, exacerbated by tensions between rival trade unions. The militant AMCU has been challenging the dominance of NUM, whose leaders have grown rich and powerful from an alliance with the African National Congress.

Several other strikes also swept across the platinum belt in Africa's largest economy, home to nearly 80 percent of the world's platinum reserves. Following the strike at the Lonmin mine, seven other mines in the area had work stoppages. The strikes were partially led by the AMCU.

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by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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