We are like dogs: mineworkers
Rustenburg - Striking Anglo Platinum (Amplats) workers likened their jobs to that of hunting dogs on Thursday.
“You send a dog to hunt for an animal, and when it comes back with it, you eat alone and give it bones. Now we dig for platinum but our bosses are getting more money,” said 30-year-old Sibusiso Zozi.
Zozi said the R5000 he was getting was not enough to support his three children.
Workers were on strike because they believed the platinum they were digging up was valuable.
“We know there is money there.”
Another worker, Nora Nape, 34, said much of the money she received was used to pay off loans.
“I have to travel every day, I have to support my family. So, I make loans in trying to balance my finances,” she said.
Mineworkers demanded pay of R16,070 a month at a meeting at the Bleskop stadium in Rustenburg.
This was according to Gaddafi Ndoda, who described himself as a member of a newly-formed workers' committee.
“To us, R12,500 is just a basic salary,” he said, referring to the amount mentioned as a demand among many mineworkers over the past weeks.
“Anglo is the most-paying (sic) mine in the country, so our demand is different from other mineworkers,” said Ndoda.
He said they wanted “nothing to do” with AngloPlats' Mageu beverage, and wanted their refreshment allowance to be R30 a day.
On Wednesday, they complained about the quality of the Mageu, an energy drink made from fermented grain.
He said workers were currently not entitled to a safety and transport allowance.
“We want our transport allowance to be R60 daily and (our) safety allowance to be R1500.”
They also wanted the increase in their living-out allowance to be R2000 - up from R1700.
An “executive committee” of six members representing workers outside formal union forums had been formed and they took a memorandum to the mine's management in Klipfontein near the stadium.
Ndoda said workers would converge again on Friday as their strike continued.
“Tomorrow (Friday) we will go back to the stadium, and we are expecting to be addressed by Mr (Julius) Malema, he was supposed to come today (Thursday), but he apologised for not being able to come.”
Amplats suspended operations on Wednesday out of concern for the safety of its employees, and said there was no strike at the mine.
CEO Chris Griffith said the situation in the Rustenburg area was volatile, and that people who wanted to go to work could not because of threats of violence.
“Anglo American Platinum has decided to suspend its operations in the Rustenburg area with immediate effect,” he said in a statement.
“The suspension will continue until such time as operations can be safely resumed.”
Amplats' chairwoman Cynthia Carroll said the company was in touch with authorities “at the highest level” to identify ways of working with government and the recognised labour unions to achieve a swift and peaceful resolution.
She said the company's Rustenburg platinum operations were already under financial pressure, and the suspension of operations risked their long-term viability. - Sapa