Amcu pleads with Zuma to intervene in mines disputes

Start up union Amcu has called on President Jacob Zuma to intervene in the mining crisis.

Lonmin workers march, demanding better wages. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

MARIKANA/RUSTENBURG - The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on Thursday pleaded with President Jacob Zuma to intervene in the current mining crisis.

Operations at three mines in the North West and Gauteng have come to a standstill, with workers embarking on illegal strikes over higher wages.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said the halting of operations was an emergency.

He also said the new union called on their members not to participate in any unprotected strikes.

Mathunjwa also condemned incidents of violence during the protests. Police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd which had gathered at Gold Fields's KDC west mine in Driefontein on Wednesday.

The strike at Lonmin's Marikana mine, where 45 people - including two policemen and miners - have been killed, has been characterised by murder, intimidation and death threats. On Tuesday, journalists discovered a body in an open field in Marikana.

Meanwhile, miners from Lonmin's Marikana operation said they were not aware of a joint march planned for Thursday.

Striking workers from Anglo America's Platinum (Amplats) mine in Rustenburg have planned a mass demonstration and encouraged miners from across the North West to join them.

Lonmin staff said they would gather at a hilltop in the township, while strike leaders attended wage discussions with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), unions and Lonmin management later in the day.

Lonmin employees have vowed to return to work immediately, should an agreement finally be reached.

This will be good news for the platinum operation, after less than two percent of its employees reported for work on Wednesday.

Strike leaders believe wage talks are a step in the right direction to solving the ongoing dispute with miners.

AMPLATS MINERS GEAR FOR STRIKE

Meanwhile, protesters from Amplats gathered at the Bleskop Stadium ahead of their march to the mine's head office on Thursday.

They were expected to start marching once more strikers arrived.

Some 6,000 miners from the operation on Wednesday declared they were on strike.

Like their Lonmin counterparts, they have demanded a basic salary of at least R12, 500.

The strike committee leading the mass action is unwavering on its plan to bring mines across the country to a standstill by next week, it mines do not offer them higher wages.

Amplats shut down its operations on Wednesday afternoon.