Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Deadly South Africa miners' strike ends
by Staff Writers
Johannesburg, South Africa (UPI) Sep 19, 2012

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

A wage deal involving striking miners in South Africa is expected to end a shutdown of the country's gold and platinum fields, a work action in which 45 people were killed in the worst violence since the apartheid era ended in 1994.

The 5-week strike at the Marikana mine 60 miles northwest of Johannesburg owned by the London company Lonmin, the world's third largest platinum producer, and employing 28,000, shut down five other platinum mines, one gold mine and one producing chrome.

"The crisis has tarnished South Africa's image as an investment destination and added to pressure on a mining sector already struggling with rising production costs and a fragile global economic environment," the Financial Times observed.

The mass walkout was a challenge to the African National Congress government of President Jacob Zuma and its alliance with a labor federation that rivals the mineworkers' union.

The political fallout, intensified by the killing of 32 strikers by police, has been immense. Some commentators believe the bloodletting added to Zuma's growing unpopularity.

South Africa supplies 80 percent of the world's platinum, one-quarter of its chrome and is among the top 10 gold producers.

The strike gripped a vital sector of the country's economy, the richest in Africa.

But it also brought into sharp focus the growing disparity between the majority poor and the largely corrupt elite under the rule which brought down apartheid and vowed to share the country's wealth equally.

Zuma, 70, has been widely criticized for his ostentatious style and the ANC's failure to usher in social equality. He faces a crucial ANC congress in December that will determine whether he secures a second term as president.

Zuma, who has been ANC president since he was elected by Parliament following the party's 2009 general election victory, took office May 9 of that year.

He has faced several legal challenges. He was charged with rape in 2005 but was acquitted. Zuma fought a lengthy legal battle over allegations of racketeering and corruption after his financial adviser was convicted of graft and fraud. The National Prosecuting Authority dropped the charges in April 2009 -- shortly before Zuma's election as national president -- citing political interference.

He estimated the mines shutdown cost the country $500 million. The mining sector accounts for one-fifth of South Africa's gross domestic product.

The president took a tough line with the 28,000 striking Lonmin miners when the stoppage began Aug. 10.

The strike action was masterminded by Julius Malema, a former youth leader expelled by the ANC on disciplinary ground earlier this year who is one of Zuma's most vociferous critics.

His campaign against the ANC elite and the coterie of black billionaires, mostly ANC members, who have made their fortune out of the mining sector who have joined the small white elite that controls an economy based on mineral resources, has helped put Zuma's leadership under the microscope.

Six days into the Marikana walkout, police opened fire on protesting strikers at the mine, killing 34 and wounding 78. Ten other people, including two policemen, were killed in other violence.

The slaughter evoked bitter memories of apartheid-era massacres of blacks by white police and troops. Among them was Sharpsville March 21, 1960, when police killed 69 black protesters in the Transvaal township.

On June 16, 1976, police in the Johannesburg suburb of Soweto fired into black high-school students protesting the imposition of Afrikaans, the white Boer language, in their schools.

The apartheid regime listed the death toll at 26 but the unofficial toll was as high as 200.

After the Marikana slaughter, the wildcat strikes unrest spread. Anglo American Platinum, the world's top platinum producer, suspended operations at five of its mines in Rustenburg, citing intimidation.

The Beatrix mine operated by Gold Fields, the world's fourth largest gold producer, was hit along with Xastra's chrome operation.

On Tuesday, Lonmin reached an agreement with the Marikana strikers.

It will pay a gross monthly wage of $1,385 to 3,000 rock drill operators who launched the strike demanding a take-home wage of $1,560, with an average increase in salaries of 11-22 percent, plus a one-shot bonus of $244.

The wider, more explosive issue of massive unemployment, mainly among blacks, poverty and vast inequality remain a ticking time bomb on a continent bedeviled by such social ills.


Related Links
Global Trade News

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

China's Wen to meet EU amid debt crisis, trade row
Beijing (AFP) Sept 19, 2012
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao meets Europe's leaders Thursday as the world's second-biggest economy falters in the eurozone debt crisis downdraft and the two sides face a long list of trade disputes. Wen is attending his last China-EU summit in Brussels, meeting European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, as well as EU foreign policy head ... read more

EU offers Italy 670 mn euros in quake aid

Norway supplies $168M for famine relief

Haunting 'Land of Hope' part shot on location in Fukushima

Japan slams brakes on $63 billion in spending

e2v chosen to supply high performance imaging sensors for Japan's X-ray Free-Electron Laser

Less wear, longer life for memory storage device

Solving bubble troubles: new surface can prevent liquid explosions or even frost

International team of physicists makes discovery about temperature in convection

When it rains, it pours

Marine park 'the size of the Moon' takes shape in Pacific

Super-trawler company to fight Australian ban

Most coral reefs are at risk unless climate change is drastically limited

Shrinking snow depth on Arctic sea ice threatens ringed seal habitat

Arctic sea ice shrinks to lowest level on record: US

Brazil to begin rebuilding its burned Antarctic base

How fast can ice sheets respond to climate change?

Sweden seeks flexibility on EU ag reforms

Warmer Temperatures Make New USDA Plant Zone Map Obsolete

New gene could lead to better bug-resistant plants

Italian architect designs world's biggest vertical garden

Powerful Typhoon Sanba pounds South Korea

Nicaragua ups volcano response as San Cristobal rumbles

India landslide death toll jumps to 45: minister

Eruptions weaken at Guatemala's Volcano of Fire

Moroccan ex-POWs from W. Sahara conflict hold sit-in

No peace of mind for war-weary South Sudanese

Toll rises to 40 in S. Sudan military boat sinking: army

ECOWAS defence ministers meet on Mali, G.Bissau: official

Some gains but many mysteries as Alzheimer's epidemic looms

Stress breaks loops that hold short-term memory together

How early social deprivation impairs long-term cognitive function

Mapping a genetic world beyond genes

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement