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Amcu vows to intensify mine strike

Thousands of Amcu members marched on Lonmin’s headquarters in Melrose Arch on Wednesday.

Thousands of Amcu mineworkers marched to Lonmin’s headquarters in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, as they entered the 10th week of their strike for higher wages. 3 April 2014. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on Thursday refused to accede to economic pressure as the wage strike on the platinum belt stretches into its 10th week.

Union president Joseph Mathunjwa led over 3,000 people in a march to Lonmin Platinum's headquarters at Melrose Arch in northern Johannesburg.

Amuc members on Thursday handed over a memorandum of demands to mine bosses.

Members of the union make up the majority of Lonmin employees.

Amcu members show their membership cards during the thousands-strong march. All pictures: Govan Whittles/EWN.

In a two-hour address, Mathunjwa said workers would not revise their demand for a R12,500 salary, despite their families running out of money.

The roar of Amcu members chanting "yes" could be heard throughout the upmarket shopping precinct.

The Amcu leader vowed the strike would intensify.

In his heated address, Mathunjwa told workers the union would not stand down.

"We owe no one an apology. They killed us in Marikana, but we're still singing the very same song. Twelve thousand five hundred - that's what we want," he shouted.

He also warned government and mine bosses to keep their hands off Amcu.

"They cannot control our minerals and think they'll control Amcu. Never!"

Mathunjwa concluded his address by saying a march to the British High Commission in Johannesburg would take place next week.

Senior managers at Lonmin say they'll seriously consider the memorandum, but maintain that a settlement can only be reached by a compromise in the negotiations.

Lonmin CEO Ben Magara addressed the angry crowd, saying he's doing his best to work with Mathunjwa.

"We're working hard, but it's difficult because the economic reality of our business is such that your demand is unaffordable."

His statement was met with loud cheers from the workers.

Amcu treasurer Jimmy Gama (L) with Lonmin CEO Ben Magara (R).

Last week, union members delivered a memorandum to Impala Platinum at the company's Illovo headquarters in northern Johannesburg.

Meanwhile, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) on Wednesday signed a memorandum of grievances from Amcu, announcing that it was ready to re-enter talks with the union to bring an end to the impasse.

Mineworkers handed over a memorandum to mine bosses.

Amcu had asked Amplats to partner with the mining union to bring an end to what it called "exploitative slavery".

So far, the strike has seen mining companies lose R11 billion, while workers lost R5 billion in wages.

In the Marikana area, shop owners say they've had to close their doors as business in the North West town has been brought to a standstill.

Grocery stores are ordering limited supplies and cash loan facilities have shut down.

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