Arab Today, arab today south african president urged to declare state of emergency in mining sector
Last Updated : GMT 22:15:37
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

South African president urged to declare state of emergency in mining sector

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today South African president urged to declare state of emergency in mining sector

Johannesburg - XINHUA

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) on Thursday reiterated its call on President Jacob Zuma to declare a state of emergency in the turbulent mining sector. A state of emergency should be declared until all unions and employers in the mining sector respect the peace accord and all the legislation in South Africa, said COSATU, the largest labor organization in the country. This came after talks aimed at ending a prolonged strike at the platinum sector were suspended indefinitely on Wednesday. COSATU expressed disappointment that there is no reasonable movement from either the employers or the striking workers to end the strike, which has lasted six weeks. "COSATU has several times called for the intervention from the provincial government, national government and the mine bosses to look at the situation in the mines seriously and take action," said Solly Phetoe, COSATU North West Provincial Secretary. The situation in the platinum mines, if left unattended, will lead to something which will be uncontrollable, the union said. "The effect of the strike is not only on the mine workers but it trickles down to the Rustenburg area and the North West province and eventually the whole country will be affected by this strike," the union said in a statement. COSATU also raised concern that every week there are reports of violence in the mines, meted against those who attempt to go to work, while some workers have indicated that they want to leave the striking union but they are unable to do so as they fear for their lives. In the latest incident on Thursday, a member of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was brutally savaged on his way to work in Limpopo Province and remains in critical condition, NUM said. "NUM condemns the despicable attacks driven by vigilantes masquerading as unionists while carrying pangas and machetes to slaughter the weak and the poor workers," the union said. About 80,000 members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) downed tools at three platinum companies on Jan. 23, demanding basic salaries of 12,500 rands (about 1,136 U.S. dollars) a month. On Tuesday, AMCU revised its demand, agreeing to a gradual realization of the demand in a period of four years instead of right now. But platinum producers rejected the revised demand, saying the new offer translates into an average annual increase of 29 percent and remains unaffordable as it remains significantly above inflation. In its Thursday statement, COSATU said the working conditions of most workers in the country are unbearable and their wages are still very low, but these conditions cannot be addressed by worsening them. "COSATU believes that proper interaction through dialogue is the only solution to the challenges which are facing the workers in the country and no amount of violence will resolve this challenge," said the statement. Also on Thursday, thousands of AMCU members marched in Pretoria in protest against the government for supporting the platinum companies. The protesters tried to hand over a memorandum of protest to President Jacob Zuma. Leading the march, AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa called for the resignation of Susan Shabangu, Minister of Mineral Resources. Mathunjwa accused Shabangu of urging platinum mining companies to seek legal avenues against the union to try to halt its pay strike. "The minister has chosen to collude with foreign companies, to sue AMCU for millions," he said during the march. The Anglo American Platinum, one of the companies affected by the strike, has fielded a lawsuit against AMCU, demanding about 600 million rands (about 56 million U.S. dollars) for damages caused by its striking members.

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