Lonmin's South African platinum workers end strike

Wed May 15, 2013 1:47pm EDT
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By Ed Stoddard

MARIKANA, South Africa (Reuters) - Workers at Lonmin's South African platinum shafts were ending a walkout, the company said on Wednesday, easing fears that a two-day strike could ignite fresh labor violence in the continent's largest economy.

Leaders of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) earlier told thousands of strikers at a rally to return to their posts, pending negotiations between the union and an independent mediator.

"(It) seems positive so far," Lonmin spokeswoman Sue Vey told Reuters, adding that workers were reporting for overnight shifts on Wednesday.

Labor unrest in the mineral-rich country slowed growth last year and analysts for international ratings agency Moody's said on Wednesday that further outbreaks of violence could damage the export competitiveness of South Africa's mining industry.

Tensions have been running high over looming job cuts and wage talks in the sector, complicated by a turf war between the AMCU and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) that contributed to deadly strikes at Lonmin and other platinum producers last year.

Addressing the rally at a dusty football pitch near Lonmin's Marikana mine 120 km (70 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa told strikers that the union would press for Lonmin management to recognize it as the majority union.

"AMCU does not sit on boardrooms. This is AMCU's boardroom," Mathunjwa said to roars of approval.

AMCU's affiliated workers at Lonmin were due to hold a mass meeting on Thursday.   Continued...

An unruly AMCU member (L) is removed from a gathering as other members are addressed by their leaders during a strike at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg, 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, May 15, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko