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Manuel warns of more mine sector violence

Trevor Manuel has warned wage talks in the mining sector could cause more violence.

Trevor Manuel addresses an audience at the opening of Cape Town's Nelson Mandela Legacy Exhibition on 30 June 2013. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel has raised concerns that tensions between rival unions in the mining sector could flare up again as employers begin negotiations for higher wages.

Manuel delivered the 12th Annual Ruth First Memorial Lecture at the University of the Witwatersrand on Thursday night under the theme "Marikana: Migrancy and mining one year later".

He was speaking as the South African mining sector braces for another wave of strikes in the gold sector after wage talks deadlocked between unions and the Chamber of Mines.

Manuel warned the violence that has struck the sector in recent months, will only be aggravated by wage talks.

"There are enormous tensions in the mining sector. These may be activated during the current wage bargaining season, especially in the platinum sector."

There has been an intense rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), chiefly over majority recognition at Lonmin's mines.

Several members of both unions have been killed and intimidated over the past year.

The minister said he feared the emergence of splinter unions could spill over into other industries and cause further instability.

Manuel told the audience that many of the issues raised by Marikana workers had also been raised by First and said South Africans have an obligation to address the mining industry's oppressive legacy.

First was an anti-apartheid activist and journalist who was killed by a parcel bomb addressed specifically to her in Mozambique in 1982, where she worked in exile.

She wrote extensively about the appalling working and living conditions of miners.