Miners reject Zuma's plea
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma's stern call to militant striking mineworkers to return to work has been bluntly rejected by striking workers who instead are threatening to escalate the industrial actions.
Zuma, whose government has been accused by workers of being on the mine bosses's side, issued the directive after holding a high-level meeting with business and labour on Wednesday.
He reminded the striking workers that the country had a collective bargaining system where they could raise their grievances.
But workers whose representatives held a meeting in Rustenburg yesterday to finalise plans to march to the Union Buildings, dismissed Zuma's orders and have instead threatened to intensify the strikes.
Spokesman for the Strike Workers Coordination Committee Mametlwe Sebei said workers expected Zuma to engage mining bosses to agree to a living wage.
"It is wishful thinking from President Zuma that workers will return to work because he says so. Workers are on strike because they want decent pay for their labour. We expect more mines to strike and march to Union Buildings.
"The president should be worried that we still do not have legislation on a minimum wage. We are also very disturbed that under him the government has deployed the army and police and their presence is destabilising peace."
Meanwhile, workers at Lonmin Platinum Mine will down tools today in protest against alleged police harassment.
A Lonmin worker, who refused to be named, said police had descended on Karee 3 shaft and arrested workers.
"They are arresting anyone who has been identified as being a ring leader during the strike. We are holding a meeting tomorrow and then we are going to embark on a strike," said the worker.
Lonmin management confirmed in a statement yesterday that there were sporadic labour disturbances at its mine
"This is apparently in protest against the arrest of three mineworkers in connection with criminal investigations by the South African Police Service."
Operations at Lonmin resumed last month after workers settled for a 22% increase.
Meanwhile, police spokesman Brigadier Thulani Ngubane refuted the workers' allegations that they were being harassed.
He said the police had arrested two suspects in connection with the murder of a fellow mineworker during the labour unrest at Marikana.
"In the past weeks, mineworkers have been brutally murdered and police have been working ... to try and arrest the perpetrators."