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Platinum producer issues ultimatum to striking workers – Business Leaders

August 20, 2012 No Comments »

Word leading platinum metals producer Lonmin has today asked its 3,000 illegally striking workers to return to work or face dismissal.

The company confirmed it had made the request following the deaths of 34 miners who were shot dead by police at the company’s South African mine at Marikana last week during a break out of violence.

 An initial deadline of last Friday was extended by the company in the light of the tragic events of last Thursday.  However, the legal ultimatum applies only to illegally striking rock drill operators and assistant rock drill operators who began an unprotected action on August 10th.

 Meanwhile, the Company is communicating with the rest of its local workforce, numbering 25,000, plus a further 10,000 contractors, who have not been on strike, but have been unable to work because of violence, that police consider it safe for them to report for duty again.

 Lonmin’s Chief Financial Officer,  Simon Scott, said: “The safety and security of our employees is paramount and nobody will be asked to report for duty if the police consider them in danger of reprisals.

 “Given the tragedy which unfolded last week we immediately extended this deadline, but the vast majority of our workforce, and their families, who rely on our mine for their livelihood, have now been unable to work for more than a week.”

 Mr Scott added: “As the government has made clear, it is in the interests of our workers and the country, as well as the Company, that the mines are operational. We all have a long way to go to rebuild trust and try to come to terms with what has happened, but those who rely on us and want to work deserve the chance to do so.”

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 Meanwhile Lonmin has given details of how it is supporting communities on the ground at the Marikana site.  Counselling services are running at a number of sites, including the local hospital.

 Employees and local people have been given a series of helpline numbers to call for information on the support services available, which include issues around identification of and funeral services for those who lost their lives, medical support, and counselling for all those affected.

The circumstances that led police to open fire on Thursday remain unclear, but reports from eyewitnesses suggest the shooting took place after a group of demonstrators, some holding clubs and machetes, rushed at a line of police officers.

Police, who were armed with automatic rifles and pistols, fired dozens of shots. At least 78 people were injured in the violence and some 250 people were arrested.

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