Miners emerge after nine-day underground strike over 'sex pest'

Rustenburg Chrome Mine, where 290 Numsa members have been underground since Wednesday morning, in what management has described as an unprotected strike.
Rustenburg Chrome Mine, where 290 Numsa members have been underground since Wednesday morning, in what management has described as an unprotected strike.
Image: LANXESS

About 300 miners emerged from the Lanxess Chrome Mines near Rustenburg after spending nine days underground as part of a sit-in in protest against mine management.

Trade union National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has called off its sit-in strike after reaching a settlement with mine management.

“The strike was very difficult for our members. They fought against an inflexible management who denied them food in an attempt to break the strike. For nine days they slept on the hard, cold stone floor of the shaft, in freezing temperatures, inhaling the fumes of the chrome dust,” Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said in a media statement on Thursday evening.

“For the entire time they were on strike they suffered the agony of being separated from their loved ones. But for them, the sacrifice was worth it, in order to expose a ruthless management.”

Workers at Lanxess Chrome Mine have been underground since Wednesday last week, striking largely over claims that Lanxess did not take action against a mine captain accused of sexual assault.

Numsa demanded:

  • The alleged perpetrator be suspended; and
  • The human resources (HR) manager, security manager and his wife who allegedly victimised the victim be investigated.

The mine and Numsa reached a settlement which said:

  • The alleged perpetrator will be placed on special leave pending the final investigation;
  • The mine will investigate the HR manager, security manager and his wife; and
  • Striking miners will not be fired.

“Lanxess management has created a hostile working environment for workers,” Hlubi-Majola said.

“This is a victory for Numsa and for our members. They made huge sacrifices to expose a cruel management and they emerged victorious.”

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