South Africa Mine Unrest Spreads


"The violent rise of the AMCU is the biggest challenge to the unwritten pact at the heart of the post-apartheid settlement: that unions aligned to the ANC deliver modestly higher wages for workers, while ensuring labor stability for big business."

Reuters, Ed Cropley

Around 10,000 striking South African platinum miners marched from one Lonmin mine shaft to another on Monday, threatening to kill strike breakers, as another illegal stoppage hit Gold Fields, the world's fourth-biggest gold miner.

Wage talks to end the month-long Lonmin strike, which erupted in deadly violence last month, failed to start as scheduled. The independent labor mediator said it could only take part in the process if workers returned to work by a Monday deadline, but the vast majority stayed away.

The column of marching strikers, which swelled through the day, filled a two-lane highway and stretched for over a mile, watched by a heavily-armed escort of riot police. Many of the marchers were armed with sticks, spears and machetes.

"We are looking for the guys working. If we find them, we have to kill them," said Umpho, a 23-year-old rock driller wielding a stick who declined to give his surname.

Growing labor unrest in Africa's largest economy, which is also the world's top platinum producer, is challenging the ruling African National Congress's claim to be a champion of workers' interests, even as it tries to promote stable growth.

The unrest culminated in mid-August in violent clashes with police in which 44 people were killed at Lonmin's Marikana mine, 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Johannesburg. Most of those who died were strikers shot by police officers. . .View Full Article

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