South African Miners Apprehensive To Sign Peace Accord After 34 Striking Workers Killed

by: Kate Messinger

September 6, 2012

South African miners protest
Photo via VOA News

After weeks on strike for wage increases at a platinum mine in Lonmin, South Africa, some miners and those part of the renegade union that started the strike are apprehensive to sign peace accords after the violence between police and striking workers escalated in the past weeks. On August 16th, 34 protesting workers were killed during a rally outside of the Marikana mine at which the police claim they were under attack and fired into the crowd as self defense. Two weeks later, 270 miners were charged by the authorities for the murder of their fellow protesters, though some of the miners have now been released with charges dropped after national protests. The violence began in early August when fighting among 3,000 workers refusing to enter the mine resulted in ten deaths, including two police officers. 

After the issues at Lomin made national news and prompted strikes and violence at other mines nearby and in Johannesburg gold mines, the South African government is pushing a peace accord that they say will eventually lead to negotiations about the three-fold pay increase the miners are demanding. However, some of the critical unions have refused to sign saying it will not help workers get what they deserve. The miners are demanding a pay increase from 4,000 rand (£300; $475) a month to 12,500 rand ($1,500) a month and have yet to reach a compromise with Marikana. 

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