Strikers want all mine operations shut down
STRIKING Lonmin mineworkers in Marikana, North West, are pinning their hopes on shutting down all mine operations to ensure their demands are met.
Yesterday they marched to Shaft 3 and called for all operations, including work done by artisans, managers and administrative staff, to be halted.
They vowed not to return to work until their demand for a R12500 a month pay packet was met .
Jan Thirion, senior manager at Shaft 3, pleaded with workers to allow peace accord talks that are currently on in Rustenburg to go on. But they were adamant that the solution lies in salary increases.
Johannesburg Methodist Church's Bishop Paul Verryn, who was among the workers, told Sowetan: "I am distressed by disparities at every level of our society.
"Mine managers are talking to workers behind barbed wires surrounded by heavily armed police and security.
"A peaceful resolution will take serious negotiations and for management to understand workers' demands," said Verryn.
Siphelele Mqithi, who has been a rock driller for eight years, said workers were not worried about losing income because of the strike.
"What we are paid at the moment does not even help us to sustain ourselves and our dependents," he said.
Marchers held their sticks high and sang songs in praise of expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, whom they implored to protect them from the "harsh wind" they feel in the mountains and underground in the mines.
They also sang derogatory songs about President Jacob Zuma, singing Silawulwa isidenge eSouth Africa (we are ruled by a fool in South Africa).
A 14-year-old Grade 9 pupil at Marikana Combined School, Lebogang Ralikwana, said he lived in fear. His mother earns a living washing and ironing clothes for mine workers. "They (protesters) allow us to go to school, but since the killing of people we are scared," he said.
Meanwhile, National Union of Mineworkers spokesman Lesiba Seshoka yesterday said striking workers at the Gold Fields' KDC gold mine near Carletonville have returned to work.
The workers have been on an illegal strike since last week after a charge for funeral cover was deducted from their salaries, allegedly without their blessings.
They demanded that the NUM branch leaders be removed.
"The leadership of the NUM has engaged with these workers and made a commitment to investigate their demands," said Seshoka.