Lonmin peace offer rejected by miner union

THE militant South African Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) yesterday rebuked the peace agreement set out by platinum miner Lonmin.

Talks dragged on over a week in Rustenberg in South Africa, and resulted in Lonmin, the incumbent National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and several other labour groups signing the peace treaty.

The world’s third-largest platinum producer welcomed the agreement, saying it laid a “firm foundation for the beginnings of the elimination of violence and intimidation”.

But AMCU-affiliated miners at the Marikana platinum mine, where police shot dead 34 striking rock-drill operators last month, said they were not interested in a deal that failed to include a basic wage hike to 12,500 rand (£945) a month – double what they now earn.

“I was there to talk about 12,500 rand, not some peace accord, so we did not sign any document,” said Molefi Phele, who represented striking workers.

Lonmin said it was open to talks with AMCU and striking workers on their wage demands – provided they returned to work by a Monday deadline – even though analysts say the company can ill afford such an increase.

The London-headquartered company said only 1.7 per cent of workers reported for duty at its South African operations yesterday, with miners saying they have been threatened with death if they went back to their jobs.

Lonmin shares, which had lost 25 per cent of their value since 16 August, yesterday gained 7.27 per cent on hopes of a settlement.