South Africa’s top cleric pleads with striking miners

By Crystal van Vyk

Posted on June 13, 2014 11:58

Striking mine workers and their employers could be on the verge of ending a five-month old strike that has rocked South Africa’s economy.

News of the impending deal comes at a time the country’s top clerics had joined a call for an immediate end to the strike in South Africa’s platinum sector.

In the latest plea to end the strike, the highly respected and influential Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa said the church, with its millions of parish members, is “praying for the parties to return to the talks and find lasting solutions to the social and wage problems they face at this time”.

This follows news on Thursday that an agreement was on the table, to end the strike that had crippled mining in the world’s leading producer of platinum.

Following a mass meeting with workers on Thursday evening, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) leader, Joseph Mthunjwa, said on Friday they had “accepted a new wage offer in principle, but outstanding issues need to be discussed”.

Makgoba, meanwhile, said they are praying for guidance and hopes for reconciliation between the labour union and the mining companies.

“We may each put themselves in the shoes of the other and move forward together for the sake of the common good and the safety of all, especially the employees,” he said.

AMCU mining analyst, Peter Major said the strike was “basically over” and the gist of the agreement must now be settled.

“The mood of workers at the stadium is definitely that union leaders must, sign,” he said.

On Thursday, platinum miners said, in principle, an agreement had been reached over wages and conditions of employment.

“In-principle undertakings have been reached with the leadership of the AMCU in respect of wages and conditions of employment,” Impala Platinum Holdings (Impala), the world’s number two producer of platinum, said in a statement on behalf of itself, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and Lonmin.

AMCU’s 70,000 members have been on strike since January 23, as they demand a basic monthly salary of R12,500 ($1,200).

A final deal, ending one of the longest job actions, should be announced at the weekend.

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