Lonmin Plc (LMI), the third-largest platinum producer, said its largest mine is back to normal after employees returned from a two-day wildcat strike as the biggest on-site union awaits a decision on official recognition.
Eighty-two percent of workers returned last night and more than 90 percent for the morning shift, the company said in a statement today. “The situation on the ground remains delicate” and talks on worker demands continue, it said.
The strike at the 13-shaft mine, near Rustenburg in the North West province, followed the killing of an Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union official on May 11 and came as the group demands the closure of a rival organization’s office. Violence at the mine in August that erupted from a dispute over pay left at least 44 people dead, including about 34 shot by police on a single day, 70 injured and led to about 250 arrests.
“Discussions around the issues that have formed the basis of workers’ demands are ongoing, but the company believes that returning to work and allowing engagement to continue through established channels is in everyone’s best interest,” Sue Vey, a spokeswoman for Lonmin, said in a text message.
Lonmin employs 27,000 workers and an additional 10,000 contractors.
A team of government ministers that attempted to bring an end to labor disruptions and violence last year plans to visit the Marikana area soon a bid to defuse tensions, South African Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa told reporters in Cape Town.
“The situation is dire,” she said.
The AMCU represents 70 percent of lower-level workers at Lonmin, while about 20 percent are members of the National Union of Mineworkers, which previously spoke for the majority employees, according to the company.
The AMCU wants a threshold for recognition of 30 percent, while Lonmin is seeking a level of 10 percent, according to the AMCU, which has referred recognition talks with Lonmin to South Africa’s Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.
The conciliation process, where the parties seek to work out a recognition agreement, has begun, CCMA Director Nerine
Kahn said in a statement. The commission, a unit of the department of labor, won’t comment further, she said.
AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa yesterday instructed miners to report for work last night and this morning. He was addressing thousands of people at the Wonderkop stadium, which is near the Marikana mine. Another meeting has been scheduled for miners to attend this afternoon, according to a translated version of his remarks.
Lonmin rose 1 percent to 270.70 pence by the close in London.
To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Burkhardt in Johannesburg at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at email@example.com