NUM advises mineworkers to stay home

The union says platinum companies are failing to protect workers from strike violence in Marikana.

FILE: Platinum mineworkers gather on a hill during a strike meeting. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Monday said it will only tell its members to return to work at strike-affected mines when the companies and police can both guarantee their safety at work and at home.

The union is demanding that Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin take greater responsibility in protecting workers on the strike-hit platinum belt.

Around 70,000 workers affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), a rival union, have been off work for nearly four months.

Miners are demanding a basic salary of R12,500 a month.

In recent weeks, there has been a spate of violence in the area, with at least three mineworkers and one other person killed.

The NUM is complaining that its members are being intimidated and attacked for trying to work.

The union's regional secretary Sidwell Doqokwana said, "We are not going to call upon our members to report to work because when we do so, our members get killed. Nobody takes responsibility."

Amcu's leadership has denied any involvement in the violence and has also called for peace in the area.

Meanwhile, food parcels are being handed out at the mines this afternoon as the Marikana Support Committee attempts to provide relief to striking workers and their families.

The industrial action has so far resulted in an estimated loss of R20 billion for the companies and around R10 billion in wages for the strikers.

Speaking at a briefing this afternoon, Lonmin Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ben Magara labelled the protracted strike an unprecedented socio-economic tragedy.

Last week, the companies warned of a possible health crisis, noting a decrease in the awarding of medical clearance certificates to workers as health levels drop due to malnourishment.

Others blamed intimidation in the area for workers being too afraid to even go to the clinics and hospitals.

But Magara believes a way out of the impasse can still be found.

"As South Africa, we are a country where we have always prided ourselves on finding agreements where problems seemed insurmountable. It is time that we, as leaders, find yet another solution."