Despite a reprieve in violence, the battle between South African miners and management has continued to spread across the country.15,000 workers for Gold Fields Limited began striking last night in the western portion of the KDC gold mine, The company has since sent senior leadership to the site in order to come to “a speedy and peaceful resolution.”
labour unrest in the South African mining industry has spread rapidly throughout the country. Gold Fields Limited recently just resolved a strike in one of its eastern mines, and two other platinum mines — Implats and Lonmin PLC — are dealing with their own labour disputes.
While labour disputes may be a normal part of business operations, protests have turned violent and conjure up memories of the civil unrest during the apartheid era. To date, 44 people have died in the labour dispute — the highest protester death toll since the end of Apartheid.
Lonmin has tried to quell the violence by singing a Peace Accord aimed at laying a “firm foundation for the beginnings of the elimination of violence and intimidation, as well as a return to work.”
But establishing a peaceful resolution might not be in management’s hands.
As the striking has continued, schisms in and between major unions has hindered negotiation efforts. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has allegedly been poaching miners from the National Union of Mineworkers which represents 300,000 members.
And today, according to the AP, “Strikers have threatened to kill any miners or managers who do not respect their demand for all work to stop until Lonmin agrees to a monthly take-home pay of 12,500 rand ($1,560), about double their current wages.”
Lonmin CEO Simon Scott has extended the AMCU a seat at the negotiation table, and AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa told AP that he will be attending negotiations on Monday at the Lonmin mine. But he noted that his participation depends on “his union not being sidelined to observer status.”
The economic effects of the strike could be dire. South Africa’s economy — the largest on the continent — is driven by the mining industry.
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