Key Players Refuse To Sign Deal To End S.Africa Mine Strike

Key players are refusing to sign a deal to end a deadly wildcat strike at a South African platinum mine, a worker representative and mediator said on Thursday.

Thousands of striking workers singing and carrying sticks march on a South African mine in Marikana

JOHANNESBURG — Key players are refusing to sign a deal to end a deadly wildcat strike at a South African platinum mine, a worker representative and mediator said on Thursday.

Management of the Lonmin mine inked an agreement in the early morning hours Thursday with the main unions to end the illegal strike that started in August and that has left 44 people dead.

But non-unionised workers and a key union, whose agreement is essential to ending the action, have refused to sign up to the deal.

"We cannot agree to sign that thing. It shows once you sign the workers must resume work. But we know the workers won't return," said non-unionised workers' representative Zolisa Bodlani of a "peace accord" on the strike at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine.

Mediator Bishop Jo Seoka said a key union, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) also refused to go along.

"AMCU, the union that is new in that sector, was not willing to sign the peace accord," Seoka told AFP.

"Ultimately late at (Wednesday) night it was signed by the government and other unions. That is the Labour Department, NUM (National Union of Mineworkers), and Solidarity and UASA," said Seoka.

Amcu would explain its reasons for not signing in a news conference on Friday, its president Joseph Mathunjwa told AFP in an sms message.

The accord is intended to end an illegal strike at the mine which started on August 10 and has left 44 people dead, 34 of whom were gunned down by police.

Workers are insisting that London-listed Lonmin, the world's number three platinum producer, pay them 12,500 rands ($1,479, 1,182 euros) a month, nearly triple what they claim to earn currently.

"When the management and those stakeholders are willing to discuss 12,500 (rands) we can go back to work," Bodlani told AFP.

Negotiations to get everyone on board would continue Thursday, though it was unclear if there would be meetings, said Seoka.

"The effort today will be to try to get the strikers to sign... Tomorrow people are travelling for funerals, so it has to be done some time today."

The terms sought to satisfy the demands of the various parties, said Seoka.

"The peace accord basically really says that the workers must go back to work, the management must start negotiating on the basis of 12,500 rands (wage) demand, and that there should be a peaceful and stable working environment," he said.

"People must work without fear and intimidation. Weapons must be surrendered," Seoka added.

The agreement did not give a date for miners to return to work, but powerful union NUM, which is close to South Africa's ruling ANC party, said it hoped they could be back on the job after the weekend.

"We hope they may be willing to go back to work next Monday," spokesman Lesiba Seshoka told AFP.

"What we have done is agreed to a commitment to peace at Marikana. Once there is a commitment to peace, people can go back to work freely."

In a statement the union also urged Amcu and other workers to join the agreement.

"Not being part of the accord sends a wrong message to the workforce, a message of divisions and lack of common purpose."

The company on Thursday said it would discuss the wage demands, after staunchly refusing to broach the topic before the peace accord was signed.

Lonmin on Thursday reaffirmed its commitment to wage talks "within a legal framework".

"We simply ask that those negotiations happen in an environment free of intimidation and violence," said acting CEO Simon Scott.