After a number of protracted negotiations, walk outs and many hungry tummies, the longest strike in the history of South Africa appears to be nearing its end. This was made abundantly clear on Thursday when the union leaders met the miners to discuss the wage offers from the three top mining bosses in Rusternburg.
The miners in the platinum-rich North West have been on strike since 23 January this year in protest over the wages they are getting, arguing that they are not enough to sustain them and their families. Their contention was that their wages needed to be doubled so that the starting wage would be R12 500. The mining bosses on the other hand have capitulated to allow for the R12 500 to be paid to starting workers but in stages that will see the target being reached in 2017.
All along, the union leaders, with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union(AMCU) leaders spearheading the negotiations, have held out insisting that the new salary regime needs to be effected immediately. The mining bosses, led by the three major consortiums, Anglo-American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin, have insisted that this wage would not be sustainable for the mines. There have even been indications that whatever happened, there will be many job cuts.
However, on Thursday, the AMCU held a rally in Marikana where they sought to discuss the new wage offer from the mining bosses with the workers. The reaction of the miners indicated that they were willing for the deal to be signed. There was expression that the miners had gone through many hardships and were therefore keen for the union leaders to sign. According to statistics made available to the media, the workers have, in the five months they have been on strike, forfeited more than nine billion rand in wages while the mines have lost more than 22 billion rand in revenue.