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Lonmin wage offer welcomed

Officials are now hoping that normality will return to Lonmin’s Marikana mine.

Striking Lonmin workers discuss a wage increase offer in Marikana, North West, on 14 September 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG/MARIKANA - Striking Marikana miners will be signing a final wage agreement with Lonmin bosses on Tuesday evening, bringing an end to crippling and bloody six-week long industrial action.

Workers did not get the initial R12,500 demanded when the strike began in early August.

But the miners were satisfied with the salary hike on the table, which will see their wages increase to between R9,000 and R11,000 per month.

This translated to a 22 percent increase.

Lonmin is yet to confirm exact figures.

The South African Council of Churches' Bishop Jo Seoka, who represented workers during wage talks, said the increase was substantial.

"The actual increase is about 22 percent, which is very high. We don't think that has ever happened in the history of negotiations."

The mineworkers will also be getting a R2,000 once-off bonus.

The workers have agreed to return to their posts on Thursday morning.

WAGE OFFER WELCOMED

Efficient Group chief economist Dawie Roodt said the settlement is a win for both the workers and Lonmin.

"Usually, there is an offer of about five percent. Workers then go on strike for an additional two percent, which doesn't make sense."

The African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) both hailed the settlement.

The ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza said they hoped the agreement would be the start of a new calm in Marikana.

He said this does not mean socio-economic conditions of miners can now be forgotten.

DA spokesperson Mmusi Maimane said this was the first of many important steps to restart production at the mine.

"It is an incredible breakthrough and it is critical. Operations can go back to normal and we can begin to correct the mining sector."

Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the union was happy that a deal was reached.

News of the wage deal reached the federation during proceedings at its national congress in Midrand.

Vavi said this was a victory for non-unionised workers, but that the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) will go back to Marikana to convince workers to rejoin the union.

"We are happy a solution has been found and that the strike has come to an end."

MARIKANA VIOLENCE

In August, some 3,000 rock drill operators downed tools to demand higher salaries from Lonmin.

During the first week of demonstrations, at least ten people were killed, including a police officers and security guards.

Clashes between police and striking workers resulted in the death of 34 protesters on August 16.

At least 78 others were wounded in the shooting.

A total of 270 workers were arrested and released following the clashes.

Later in August, another body was found close to where miners had gathered.

The total death toll stands at 45.

The violence was initially blamed the Num and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

But both unions distanced themselves from the violence.