Marikana miners end strike after agreeing a 22 per cent pay deal

 

Cape Town

Striking platinum miners agreed to go back to work last night, ending a six-week industrial dispute that claimed 43 lives and put President Jacob Zuma's government under severe strain.

The workers at Lonmin's Marikana mine, west of Pretoria, accepted the offer of a 22 per cent overall pay increase – for most of them far short of the 12,500 rand (£932) monthly minimum wage they had been demanding. They said they would return to work on Thursday.

The settlement is likely to be welcomed by mining investors as a vindication of the firm stance adopted by the government. But it will do little to build bridges between South Africa's impoverished and restive masses and a political leadership that appears increasingly distant from their concerns.

It was not clear last night whether striking gold miners would also go back to work but other platinum producers said their plants were running again.

As night fell at Marikana, about 3,000 striking miners who had gathered on a sports field broke into cheers at the announcement of the 22 per cent offer, brokered by the South African Council of Churches.

The strike at Marikana – the bloodiest and most politically damaging industrial unrest since the African National Congress came to power in 1994 – began on 10 August. The roots of the conflict go back to the boom years before the 2008 financial crisis, when mining multinationals abandoned centralised bargaining.

Since then, tens of thousands of platinum miners have been laid off.At the same time rivalry between South African mining unions has poisoned industrial relations.

At Marikana, 3,000 rock-drillers affiliated to a breakaway union demanded monthly salaries of R12,500 – representing a threefold increase for many. Nine people, including two police officers and three officials of the mainstream National Union of Mineworkers, died in incidents in the first week of the strike. On 16 August, armed police opened fire on strikers gathered on a hillside, killing 34 of them and injuring 78. Police were accused of using apartheid-era tactics and an international outcry followed when the judiciary charged 270 Marikana miners with the 34 murders.

The Justice Minister intervened and the charges were dropped. However, the impression remained that the ANC – and its government partners in Cosatu, a trade union confederation including the NUM – were doing the bidding of investors.

The dispute provided oxygen for Julius Malema, the ousted firebrand leader of the ANC Youth League. He called on mineworkers to bring the sector to its knees.

But the miners, and their breakaway union, were left isolated after police prevented Mr Malema from addressing miners at Marikana on Monday. At the same time, delegates at Cosatu's annual congress staged a show of unity. President Zuma was greeted with cheers and the leadership was re-elected unchallenged.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Specialist - Document Management

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading provider of document ...

Recruitment Genius: Legal Secretary

£17000 - £17800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to work ...

Recruitment Genius: Ad Ops Manager - Up to £55K + great benefits

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a digital speci...

The Green Recruitment Company: Operations Manager - Anaerobic Digestion / Biogas

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Operation...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent