Lonmin Miners In South Africa 'To Go Back To Work'

by
staff
Striking miners at a Lonmin-owned platinum mine in South Africa have agreed to return to work on Thursday, mediators and reports say.

Lonmin Miners In South Africa 'To Go Back To Work'

Striking miners at a Lonmin-owned platinum mine in South Africa have agreed to return to work on Thursday, mediators and reports say.

Miners cheered when they were told of a proposed 22% pay rise, a witness told Reuters news agency.

But South Africa's labour dispute body told the BBC it was waiting to hear if the latest pay offer had been accepted.

Last month, police opened fire on demonstrators at the mine in Marikana, killing 34 striking workers.

Production at the mine has been paralysed for weeks and unrest has spread to other mines.

'Mission accomplished'

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration told the BBC a delegation of workers representatives had gone to inform the striking miners of the latest offer on Tuesday afternoon.

The workers, most of who are rock drill operators, gathered to hear the address at a football pitch near the Marikana mine in Rustenburg, which is the centre of platinum mining in South Africa - about 80km (50 mile) north-east of Johannesburg.

They have been demanding a salary of 12,500 rand ($1,513; £935) - they currently earn between 4,000 and 5,000 rand.

"What has happened here has been a victory really for the workers, and they're going to work on Thursday morning," AFP news agency quotes mediator Johannes Seoka, the Bishop of Pretoria, as saying.

One worker held up a hand with the phrase "mission accomplished" written in black ink, AP news reported.

Bishop Seoka, from the South African Council of Churches, told the BBC there would also be a one-off payment of 2,000 rand to help cover the weeks of not being paid while they were on strike.

He refused to give any further details of the offer and said he was going back to the Lonmin management to finalise the deal on Tuesday night.

On Monday, President Jacob Zuma said that the disruption had cost the industry $548m in lost output.

He has ordered a judicial inquiry into what has become known as the "Marikana massacre" - the most deadly police action since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Meanwhile, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) says it has re-opened its mines and expects them to be in fully working by Wednesday.

The world's largest platinum producer suspended its operations last week after thousands of people protested outside one of its Rustenburg mines.

The BBC's Andrew Harding in Johannesburg says there is a risk that the deal could trigger new turmoil in other mines - given the Lonmin action was an illegal strike that involved serious intimidation.

But there is also hope that, at least in the short term, the crisis that has spread through parts of South Africa's mining sector may be coming to an end, he says.