Thousands of Goldfields mineworkers are likely be fired if they don't return to work soon. Goldfields obtained an interdict last week to force them back to work. It has already issued two warnings and is likely to issue a final warning by tonight. Union leaders made an emergency trip to the mines KDC west operations, near Carletonville in the North West.
Today was the 10th of an unprotected strike and workers remained unfazed. They say they will not allow Goldfields to employ anyone in their place. Operations at the major gold producer have been halted.
Strikers are demanding R12 500 after deductions. They also want widows of miners to be paid their benefits and the National Union of Mineworkers shop stewards removed. With the threat of dismissal looming large, NUM and Cosatu leaders arrived late this afternoon.
Earlier, Goldfields said it could not negotiate the salary demands as they are in the middle of a two year wage agreement. NUM leaders will hold a meeting with Goldfields management tonight.
The 11 to 22% wage hike at Lonmin could be a precedent for workers to use more violence to get what they want
Meanwhile, the Lonmin saga has come to an end. But the overall outlook
for mining in South Africa is now perhaps even less certain, especially
for employment in the sector. The 11% to 22% wage hike at Lonmin could be
a precedent for workers to use more violence to get what they want.
Analysts say companies are likely to be held to ransom to give workers
similar pay as at Lonmin. Analyst says the situation has made a mockery
of the collective bargaining process and unions may rue that day.
Analyst Chris Gilmour says he listened to Frans Baleni of the NUM on the radio and he said, paraphrasing: "This is the reward for anarchy (the salary increase)." Gilmour says so what's also happened is the normal collective bargaining process within the organised union movement has kind of broken down and you've got radical elements in different organisations calling the shots now.
He says prior to the strikes, platinum mines were looking to cut production to combat market oversupply. They were also looking to cut costs. According to analysts the precedent set by Lonmin means companies are not going to find ways to avoid creating more jobs. "What will happen is that the mining companies will now go more and more for mechanisation, more highly qualified miners, more highly paid but many fewer paid," said independent Labour Analyst Terry Bell. While, workers may be happy today, their futures may not be as rosy and unemployment will deal the economy another blow.