Marikana mine crisis: South African workers reject Lonmin offer

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The mining strikes have been marked by fatal clashes

Workers at South Africa's Marikana platinum mine have rejected a pay offer from the management, dashing hopes for an end to their weeks-long strike.

The miners said the offer was well below the 12,500 rand ($1,513; £935) they were demanding.

The strikes have been marked by violent clashes, including the shooting dead of 34 miners by police.

The strike has spread to other gold and platinum mines in South Africa, a major exporter of precious minerals.

Production has been severely hit with several mines closed.

Despite a government warning to clamp down on violent protests, unrest continued in the Rustenburg area.

Aquarius closed a platinum mine after protesters gathered outside, while Xstrata shut a chrome plant.

Earlier this week, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) closed its platinum mines following unrest.

'Insulting' offer

The Marikana miners gathered on a hill near the mine rejected the pay offer by Lonmin, one of the world's biggest platinum producers.

They said the proposal envisaged a pay rise of just under 1,000 rand a month - far lower than they were demanding. Miners currently earn between 4,000 and 5,000 rand.

"What they [the workers] say is that their offer is an insult, what you put on the table is an insult," miners' representative Molisi Phele told the AFP news agency.

"We are going back to tell them [Lonmin], the workers say: 'Thank you for giving us nothing,'" Mr Phele added.

Protest leaders have threatened to launch a general strike if their demands are not met. They are supported by the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which is allied to the ANC-led government, earlier told the BBC that it was concerned about the high level of violence and job losses in the mining sector.

In response to the threat of a general strike, the government placed its military on high alert - the first such move since democracy came to the country in 1994.

The strike began at the Marikana mine in August and 10 people, including two officers, were killed as the dispute turned violent days before the police opened fire.

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