Striking Lonmin workers face Monday deadline to return
By Jon Herskovitz
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Striking workers at the world's No. 3 platinum producer Lonmin, where 44 people have been killed in a week of violence, face possible dismissal if they do not return to work on Monday, a company spokeswoman said.
Last week, 34 people were gunned down by police in a hail of bullets from automatic weapons when authorities moved in against 3,000 striking workers armed with machetes, spears and handguns who were camped on a hill at Lonmin's Marikana mine, about 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Johannesburg.
"The final ultimatum has been extended to Monday, the 20th following Thursday's events," spokeswoman Gillian Findlay said on Sunday.
"Employees may be dismissed if they fail to heed the final ultimatum," she said.
London-based Lonmin accounts for 12 percent of global platinum output. It is already struggling with low prices, weak demand and may miss its annual production target of 750,000 ounces as the quarter to the end of September is typically its best.
The strike was sparked by a turf war between the powerful National Union of Mineworkers and the upstart Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which has accused NUM of caring more about politics than workers in mine shafts.
NUM has been a breeding ground of leaders for the ruling African National Congress party and one of the union's former top officials now sits on Lonmin's board as a non-executive director.
Ten people were killed prior to the police shooting, including a NUM shop steward who was hacked to death. Continued...