Workers at South African mine trickle back to work after 44 killed
By Peroshni Govender and Ed Stoddard
MARIKANA, South Africa (Reuters) - About a third of the workforce returned on Monday to South Africa's Marikana platinum mine, resuming operations at the site where police shot dead 34 striking miners in clashes that evoked memories of apartheid-era violence.
Mine owner Lonmin has threatened about 3,000 striking workers with dismissal if they do not show up at Marikana, 100 kilometers (60 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, where miners armed with spears, machetes and handguns died on Thursday in a hail of police fire.
Ten people were also killed prior to the police shooting, including a shop steward from the country's biggest union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), who was hacked to death, as a dispute between mining unions turned deadly.
Striking workers gathered on Monday near the garbage-strewn fields and the barren hill where they assembled a week ago, with many saying they were not ready to go back into the shafts.
"You work so very hard for very little pay. It is almost like death," said a striking miner who asked to be identified only by his first name, Thulani.
Lonmin said it did not yet have enough workers at their posts to produce ore, and officials from the small Solidarity union of highly skilled workers said at least 80 percent of the workforce is needed to bring platinum out of the shafts.
The violence was sparked by a spreading battle for membership between the NUM and the upstart Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which has accused its rival of caring more about politics and personal enrichment than workers.
Lonmin said in a statement that operations had resumed and it had extended to Tuesday from Monday its deadline for the strikers at the mine, which employs 28,000, to return to work. Continued...