Amplats miners target Murray & Roberts
New group called the Democratic Socialist Movement wants all mines in Rustenburg to come a halt next week.
A group of around 200 Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) protesters started heading for a Murray & Roberts operation in Rustenburg on Friday, as part of its plan to close all mines in the region.
They set off from Amplats’ Blesbok stadium, with police Nyalas driving in front of them for the 4km journey.
Mametlwe Sebei, leader of a group which has called itself the Democratic Socialist Movement, told the protesters that all mines in Rustenburg must come to a halt next week.
Sebei said protests were continuing to close all mines in the area and named Samancor, Xstrata, Murray & Roberts, Implats and Amandelbult.
Earlier, mineworkers insisted that their monthly salary demand of R16,070 was realistic.
Anthon Dembele, 38, said the underground work conditions posed a health risk.
“We breathe artificial oxygen in there [underground]; the noise of machines is also damaging our ears,” he said. “Now, when you talk to me, you must raise your voice a bit,” Dembele said.
Another worker, who said he was a “former” National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) shop steward, spoke on condition of anonymity and echoed his colleague’s sentiments.
He said if this pay demand was met they could maintain themselves and even see specialist doctors.
He said NUM was “conniving” with the management and wanted nothing to do with them any more.
“Our regional leader normally twists our statements, that’s why the situation is like this today,” he said.
He said that after agreements were made at branch caucus meetings, he discovered these decisions were not later conveyed accurately to management.
He said NUM had known about their demands for a long time, but because of the shares it has in the mine, it was trying to balance its interests.
“They have shares. So now they are trying to balance their interests by compromising us,” he said.
An “executive committee” of six members operating outside union forums held meetings throughout the morning, ahead of addressing the miners gathered at the stadium.
On Friday, the group was much smaller and whiled away time until the meeting ended, by singing and dancing at the stadium.
The mine suspended operations on Wednesday, saying this was to protect employees from intimidation. It said there is no strike, a statement some mineworkers interviewed at the stadium have disagreed with.