'Time for change'
COSATU general secretary Zwelizima Vavi says the labour federation has to emerge from its congress in Midrand with a radical declaration if it wants to win back the confidence of mineworkers.
This was after he was forced to abandon the congress to address 15000 striking mineworkers at Carletonville, west of Johannesburg.
Vavi reported back to congress, saying the striking workers had tol d him they would not budge until they got a R12500 wage increase.
". this has huge implications for this country," Vavi said. "We must position ourselves ahead of the rolling ball. We have to have a militant declaration. If we don't do that, we might find ourselves chasing workers."
Speaking on the sidelines, NUM president Senzeni Zokwana said the Marikana deal - which saw the workers getting increases between 11% and 22%, after weeks of violent protests - had put the future of formal negotiation processes under "threat".
Zokwana accused Lonmin of violating established negotiation processes, saying the company had earlier refused to give workers 15% when negotiating with NUM, but buckled under pressure from NUM rival, Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).
"My concern is not that they negotiated high salaries, but the fact that they are undermining the institutions for negotiations," he said.
This view was supported by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. "We can't afford to have people negotiating outside the formal structures. This is dangerous."
The Marikana salary settlement could deepen the fight for membership between the NUM and Amcu.
Meanwhile, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane - who was leading a government inter-ministerial committee (IMC) that has been working to resolve the Marikana situation - said that the government welcomed the salary settlement.
"The IMC is quite pleased and relieved that this matter has finally come to an end and wishes to congratulate all parties who were involved," he said.
"This matter, as also expressed by the negotiators, has presented challenges to all of us and our nation."
Business Unity South Africa also welcomed the deal. "Unfortunately it took six weeks and 44 deaths . to reach this point," spokesman Masego Lehihi said.