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South African Toyota workers end strike after pay rise

Category : Business

Union leaders at Japanese car company’s Durban plant said staff would return after being given 5.4% wage increase

Toyota said it had been forced to shut its South African car factory for four days because of an illegal pay strike, the first sign of that wildcat mine stoppages are spreading to other parts of Africa’s biggest economy.

Union leaders at the Japanese company’s Durban plant said that workers would return on Friday after winning a 5.4% pay rise, inspired in part by a hefty increase won last month by strikers at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine.

“The circumstances are not the same as what is happening in the mines,” said Mbuso Ngubane of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa. “But it does send a message. It does have an impact on other workers.”

The strikes by South Africa’s platinum, gold, iron ore and diamond miners could also spread to coal, potentially disrupting output from one of the world’s biggest coal suppliers. As many as 75,000 miners, or 15% of the industry’s workforce in South Africa, are on strike, undermining already shaky growth.

Violent clashes during a six-week stoppage at the Marikana mine resulted in the death of 46 people.

South Africa’s mines: gulf between employees above and below ground

Category : Business

Miners may have received a pay rise after a six-week strike, but their bosses have reaped much bigger increases

In February, a horse named Patriot reared and threw its rider. It was an unremarkable accident, the like of which is a frequent risk for amateur riders, yet it created international headlines. That was because the rider was Cynthia Carroll, chief executive of mining group Anglo American. Her resultant broken hip barred her from foreign travel for two months, thereby ruling her out of the international commitments that seem to be a compulsory part of the chief executive’s itinerary.

The unrest in South Africa’s mines has highlighted the inequality between employees above and below ground. Of course bosses live more lavish lifestyles than staff in almost every facet of industry. But in the case of mining, the differences appear particularly stark, as the physical risks attached to extracting metals from the ground can be considerably more serious than a broken hip.

Lonmin’s South African miners have just returned to work after a six-week stoppage at the platinum producer in which 45 people were killed – industrial action that resulted in pay rises of up to 22%, taking salaries to around £900 a month. But even that scale of pay rise is not unique within the industry.

Carroll was paid £2.2m for being boss of Anglo American last year, an increase of 38% on the previous year, supplemented by part-time roles: at BP she earned a further £85,000 as a non-executive director, while at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the world’s largest platinum producer which also has suffered strikes and reopened five mines last week, Carroll was paid £77,000 as non-executive chairman.

Lonmin boss Ian Farmer earned £1.2m last year but most of the workers’ anger has been directed at miners union leader turned millionaire tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa. He was paid £61,000 as a Lonmin non-executive director last year and has come to symbolise unease about the gap between a new black elite and the poverty-stricken majority

Ramaphosa, also a senior figure in the governing African National Congress, has been pushed into issuing a public apology for bidding millions of rand for a buffalo cow and her calf. “Yes, I did put a bid and that was a mistake on my part,” he told SAfm radio. “It was a mistake. I regret it. It was a mistake to even put up my hand to do so”.

“I’ve been chastised by some of my good comrades, and even before they chastised me, I did admit that was a mistake. I regret it because it is an excessive price in the sea of poverty. I belong to a community and it was one of those moments when I was blind-sighted.”

Meanwhile, Anglo Gold Ashanti appears to have replaced Lonmin at the centre of the industrial dispute storm. After closing its Kopanang mine following a strike by 5,000 workers last week, the company has halted all South African operations as most of its 35,000 employees decided to join in.

City grandee and UK Financial Investments director Michael Kirkwood serves on Anglo Gold Ashanti’s board, where the chief executive, Mark Cutifani was paid £1.6m last year. Only last week, he told the Financial Times that his company had maintained a “very strong and positive dialogue with our employees” — albeit before adding that continuing wage settlements like Lonmin would mean job losses.

Striking South Africa platinum miners agree deal with Lonmin

Category : Business

Miners to return to work after pay rise ends five weeks of bitter industrial action during which 45 people were killed

Striking platinum miners in South Africa have accepted an agreement with Lonmin and plan to return to work on Thursday, all but ending five weeks of acrimony, bloodshed and tragedy.

The police massacre of 34 protesting mineworkers at Marikana last month was the worst display of state violence in the country’s post-apartheid history. In all 45 people died during the bitter industrial action. Unrest spread to other mines, threatening the backbone of South Africa’s economy.

On Tuesday strikers gathered near the Marikana mine 60 miles north-west of Johannesburg cheered when they were informed of London-listed Lonmin’s final offer. It includes a 22% pay increase for rock drillers – taking their pay to just over 11,000 rand (£825) a month – and a one-off payment of 2,000 rand (£150) to help cover nearly six weeks of not receiving wages while on strike, Bishop Joe Seoka, a member of the negotiating team, told Associated Press.

About 5,000 strikers gathered in a stadium to hear the deal, and cheered and sang when they finally accepted the offer, described as record-breaking. They formed a line and danced out of the stadium. “You have won as workers,” Seoka told the crowd. He said there would be further negotiations in October when they could discuss a further increase.

One worker held up a hand with the phrase “Mission Accomplished” written in black ink.

Lonmin confirmed that a wage deal had been signed, officially ending the strike.

Opposition parties welcomed the settlement. Sej Motau, shadow minister of labour for the Democratic Alliance, said: “We hope that this brings the necessary stability to the situation at Marikana, for appropriate humanitarian assistance to be provided to the families of Marikana victims and for unencumbered reflection on the majoritarian labour regime that has contributed to the tragedy.

“The DA remains convinced that the events at Marikana could have been prevented through a more equitable labour regime, with a better prepared police service and in a minerals sector in which policies serve a broader range of stakeholders. We will be using our position in parliament to push for appropriate policy reforms.

“We hope that the Marikana workers will be allowed to return to work without fear for their safety.”

The deadly strike has shaken Lonmin, mining and the whole of South Africa, triggering a wide ranging debate about the role of mining companies and labour unions, persistent police brutality and impatience at the governing African National Congress’s lack of progress in arresting inequality after 18 years. It reportedly cost the country more than 4.5bn rand.

The ferocity of the government’s crackdown, and allegations that police tortured detained mineworkers, has been compared with the era of racial apartheid. Last weekend soldiers supported police as they seized weapons and dispersed some protesting workers with teargas and rubber bullets.

Simon Scott, the company’s acting chief executive, said: “These have been difficult and tragic weeks for everyone involved with the company, the communities living around our operations and the South African nation as a whole.

“Tonight’s agreement and the subsequent return to work is only one step in a long and difficult process which lies ahead for everyone who has been affected by the events at Marikana, but it is essential in helping secure the futures of our tens of thousands of employees and all those who rely on Lonmin in the region.”

The Lonmin workers were the first to strike and in recent weeks seven other mines had work stoppages. Partially led by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), the strikes have swept across the platinum belt, home to nearly 80% of the world’s reserves. AMCU is challenging the dominance of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), whose leaders have grown rich and powerful from an alliance with the ANC, which has relied on organised labour for votes.

The work stoppages reportedly cost the country more than 4.5bn rand (£335m). They hit the rand currency, raised insurance against default on South African debt and spooked some foreign investors into selling shares in mining companies.

In another sign that weeks of labour unrest could be ending, Anglo American Platinum said it had resumed its operations in the strike-hit Rustenburg area.

“Anglo American Platinum Limited (Amplats) confirms that all of its Rustenburg operations have resumed, effective from today’s morning shift,” the company said.

On the news of the Marikana agreement, the spot platinum price fell 2% to a session low at $1,627.49/oz and the rand firmed against the dollar.

The conflict in the mining sector had also damaged president Jacob Zuma and the ANC, whose response was seen as slow and ineffective. They face accusations that they had neglected poor workers and sided with wealthy business owners.

On Tuesday Julius Malema, an ANC rebel who calls for the nationalisation of mines, criticised Zuma for sending the army to Marikana in recent days as if was under an “undeclared state of emergency”. Malema added: “Never in the history of the ANC has a sitting president presided over such chaos and division in the ANC and the country.”

South Africa mine unrest costs £335m in lost output

Category : Business

Lonmin, whose Marikana mine has seen worst violence, halts work on new shaft and puts 1,200 miners out of work

Unrest at South Africa’s platinum and gold mines has cost the industry 4.5bn rand (£335m) in lost output, President Jacob Zuma said, as the company at the centre of the strikes closed a shaft putting 1,200 miners out of work.

Although two mines reopened on Monday there was still no end in sight to the protests over pay which have seen 45 people killed in weeks of unrest. Zuma said that aside from the losses to mining companies, the stoppages had cost the South African treasury 3.1bn rand.

Lonmin, the London-listed company whose Marikana mine near Johannesburg has seen the worst violence, said it was losing production of 2,500 ounces (77kg) each day the strike continues. The world’s third biggest platinum producer, Lonmin is in danger of breaking its banking covenants because of the dispute and it said on Monday that it was halting work on a new shaft and would not require 1,200 contract workers.

As tension continued to run high, South African police stopped ANC renegade Julius Malema from addressing striking miners at Marikana. Malema, a rebel expelled from the ANC, has become Zuma’s most strident critic and has urged strikers to make mines “ungovernable”.

Following the government’s promise to get tough on strikers and those inciting violence, police, some armed, surrounded Malema as he arrived in Marikana, 60 miles north-west of Johannesburg, where police shot dead 34 strikers last month.

Strikers also said they would keep shut four mines run by the world’s top producer, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), which the company aims to reopen on Tuesday.

“There is no need to resort to violence. I believe we must not encourage that,” Zuma told a conference of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, a partner with the African National Congress (ANC) in the governing alliance.

Some of the miners gathered at a football pitch in the town to hear Malema speak, threw stones at a police car as officers escorted him from the area.

Aquarius Platinum’s Kroondal mine and Xstrata’s chrome operation near the platinum belt city of Rustenburg reopened on Monday. But the situation on the ground remained tense, and Xstrata said that miners who had chosen to return to work had been subjected to intimidation by striking colleagues.

The unrest has its roots in a bloody turf war for members between an upstart union and the dominant National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) – a key political base for the ANC – but it is now unclear who the strikers are taking their directions from.

One workers’ representative dismissed Amplats’ plan to reopen its Rustenburg mines as a “joke”.

“For us, the reality is that the general strike is on,” Mametlwe Sebei, a self-styled Rustenburg community leader and Marxist politician, told Reuters. “We are going to be demonstrating in defiance. We will not be intimidated.”

Amplats management was “whistling in the dark” if it believed the mines would reopen on Tuesday, he said.

“They can deploy the army, they can be shooting people, shooting old men in their shacks, teargassing young kids … but let us be clear, there will be repercussions.”

South Africa is home to 80% of known reserves of platinum, the price of which has gained around 20% since the Marikana shootings on 16 August.

Police raided a Lonmin hostel on Saturday and seized spears, machetes and other weapons from strikers. They later used rubber bullets and teargas to disperse groups of protesters. The army has also been brought in to help restore order.

On Monday, police arrested 42 people at a mine owned by RBPlat and Amplats who were on an illegal strike.

Lonmin said mining activity at Marikana remained minimal and lowered its full-year production guidance to between 685,000 and 700,000 saleable ounces from 750,000 ounces. Lonmin also said it would temporarily close a shaft at its Karee mine, which had been meant to boost output for the struggling company.

On Friday, Lonmin workers dismissed an initial pay offer as way below the 12,500 rand a month basic pay sought by members of the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which is challenging the dominance of the NUM. Lonmin, which is offering increases of between 9% and 21%, said 12,500 rand would put thousands of jobs at risk and challenge the viability of the business. Basic pay for most underground workers is currently around 5,400 rand.

The ANC has criticised companies for paying lip service to the mining charter, which seeks to give workers and communities a bigger share of mineral wealth and rectify disparities of white apartheid rule.

“Mining remains the bedrock of the South African economy, and yet the abject poverty and squalor surrounding mining areas remains a matter of deep concern,” it said in a statement.

“The current instability at Marikana thus poses challenges to the growth of the sector and the international image of the country,” the ANC said. Reuters

South African miners reject Lonmin pay offer

Category : Business

Move dashes hopes of ending five weeks of industrial action which could be ‘extremely damaging’ to country’s economy

Strikers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine rejected a pay offer on Friday, dashing hopes of ending five weeks of industrial action that has swept through South Africa’s platinum sector and laid bare the power struggle in the ruling ANC.

Workers at the mine, where police shot dead 34 protesters last month, dismissed the offer as way below the 12,500 rand (£925) a month sought by members of the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

“We are not interested,” striker Molifi Phele said as hundreds of stick-waving demonstrators chanted and danced around him on the sun-bleached grass in the heart of the “platinum belt”, 100km north-west of Johannesburg.

“What he is offering cannot buy you anything. All we want is 12,500.”

The killings at Marikana on 16 August have poisoned industrial relations across the sector and could be “extremely damaging” to the economy, finance minister Pravin Gordhan said in a shift of tone from last week.

The rand fell 3% on Wednesday as the unrest engulfed Anglo American Platinum, the world’s biggest producer, and ripples have reached the bond market amid concerns Pretoria might resort to throwing money at the problem.

“Things could get really ugly,” said Manik Narain, an emerging market strategist at UBS in London. “There is a risk the government will respond to the unrest with fiscal stimulus, which will not go down well with rating agencies.”

On Friday police fired teargas and stun grenades to disperse another group of striking miners at an Aquarius Platinum plant in the area.

Aquarius said it had closed the mine as a precaution. Global miner Xstrata did the same at a nearby chrome plant.

Five reasons Glencore/Xstrata mega-merger is important | Phillip Inman

Category : Business

The takeover by commodities trader Glencore of mining giant Xstrata has turned unfriendly. But why does this merger matter?

Like former Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond, the bosses of Glencore and Xstrata are a breed apart. These mining and commodities trading giants, which are in the midst of a £37bn merger, have ridden an extraordinary boom in demand over the last 10 years and creamed off much of the profits for themselves and their shareholders.

Based offshore and paying little tax, Glencore orchestrates a business that few people would understand, least of all politicians who must judge whether the merger creates a monopolistic industry. Exotic derivatives and super-fast computer systems are deployed to maximise profits. Like the bankers, commodities traders argue their sophisticated systems enhance the smooth working of market capitalism. For those not in the habit of reading business pages, here are five reasons why you should care about this merger.

1. Pay and wealth

Bankers once enjoyed the salaries and bonuses commanded by mining company bosses. Mick Davis, the Xstrata chief executive, is already the best paid boss in FTSE 100, taking home £18.5m last year. Until last week, when the merger was still friendly, he was due to receive a £30m golden handcuff to keep him at his desk. Now Glencore boss Ivan Glasenberg, who owns a £5bn stake in his company, has performed an extraordinary U-turn. He has upped his offer for Xstrata and made Davis’s exit a condition of the deal, though Davis will likely leave with £8m in cash and £38m in shares.

The two men are well known to each other. Davis and Glasenberg met at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa and decided to cement their already strong business relationship into a merger of the two companies over a dinner in London last December.

2. Food

Droughts and floods have damaged this year’s food harvest, though conflicting reports of the overall effect on global stocks often make it difficult to fathom the shortfall.

Nevertheless, foodstuff prices are already up more than 20% since the spring and trading is frantic as a glut of panicky stories flood the media. Soybean prices are above the peak reached in the last food crisis in 2008.

Glencore has grown over 20 years to be one the biggest food traders in the world, dominating the trade in wheat, maize and barley, edible oils and sugar. The head of Glencore’s food trading business created a storm when he said last month that the chronic drought affecting the US midwest would be “good for Glencore” because it would be able to exploit soaring prices.

Chris Mahoney, the trader’s director of agricultural products, said: “In terms of the outlook for the balance of the year, the environment is a good one. High prices, lots of volatility, a lot of dislocation, tightness, a lot of arbitrage opportunities [the purchase and sale of an asset in order to profit from price differences in different markets].”

3. Metals and Minerals

A merged company would be the No 1 producer of coal and zinc and the biggest independent producer of copper within four years. The European Union is understood to be concerned the company could become so powerful that its trading policies will influence the price of basic metals. Xstrata has a huge investment policy, with plans to open new mines from Peru to Namibia, increasing production by 50%, though the global economic slowdown has forced the company to mothball iron ore mines in Australia.

4. Corporate governance

Xstrata is based in Zug, Switzerland, for tax purposes while keeping a corporate office in London. It’s the “best of both worlds” favoured by hedge funds and a growing number of global businesses. Glencore follows a similar model, keeping most of its business in Switzerland’s Baar canton, while being registered in Jersey with some 50 offices in 40 countries. Glencore was a 400-strong partnership until it became a stock market listed firm a couple of years ago. As such it paid no corporation tax. Under new arrangements for companies with large operations overseas, it is expected to continue paying virtually no UK corporation tax. It is also accused by aid charities of avoiding tax in Zambia and other countries where it operates, which it denies.

5. Corruption

Mining ranks as one of the most corrupt industries, according to corruption watchdog Transparency International. Most minerals are found in developing world countries and poverty tends to influence the demands of local politicians and offials for bribes to gain planning permission an export licences.

The merged company would be the fourth largest miner in the world and as such would be in the frontline in combating corruption. Both companies say in their annual reports they will not tolerate bribery or corruption of any kind. But Glencore was fined €500,000 by a Belgian court earlier this summer after a European commission official was found providing confidential information on agriculture markets to the company. Global Witness, the campaigning charity, has asked Glencore to explain potentially corrupt deals in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The allegations, which were the subject of a BBC Panorama film, include the use of child labour. The charity asked for details of the company’s relationship with an Israeli businessman who is key to its substantial mining investments in the country.

Xstrata is not immune from controversy. Protesters in the Peruvian city of Cuzco have accused the company of contaminating local water supplies and sickening farm animals, which the company denies.

South African mining unrest spreads to Gold Fields

Category : Business

World’s fourth biggest gold mine says quarter of its 46,000 workers walked out after violent protest at Lonmin platinum mine

Unrest among South African miners has spread to the world’s fourth biggest gold mine.

Bullion miner Gold Fields said about a quarter of its 46,000 workers have walked out in the first strike to affect South Africa’s gold mining industry since violent protest shut down London-listed Lonmin’s platinum mine nearby three weeks ago.

Gold Fields, which is listed in Johannesburg, said 12,000 miners have been on a “unlawful and unprotected” strike at the KDC mine near Johannesburg since Wednesday.

The KDC mine produced 1.1m troy ounces of gold in the year ending December 2011. Gold Fields’ shares closed down 2.8%.

At Lonmin’s Marikana mine, just 5.7% of miners turned up for work on Friday, a day after South African prosecutors said they were charging 270 miners arrested during the so-called “Marikana massacre” with the murder of their 34 colleagues who were shot dead by police.

The murder charge – and associated charges for the attempted murder of 78 miners injured at the Marikana mine near Johannesburg – was brought under an obscure Roman-Dutch common law previously used by the apartheid government.

The move came as the men appeared in court charged with public violence over the clashes at the Lonmin platinum mine on 16 August when striking miners armed with clubs, machetes and at least one gun allegedly charged police, who opened fire.

Julius Malema, the former African National Congress Youth League leader, who has called for President Jacob Zuma to resign over the “massacre”, told supporters of miners outside the courthouse that the charges were “madness”.

South Africa’s justice minister rebuked prosecutors for the move, saying the decision had caused “shock, panic and confusion” among the general public.

Mines minister Susan Shabangu acknowledged this week that the recent labour violence would impact potential investment into South Africa.

South African miners charged with murder of colleagues shot by police

Category : Business

Murder charges brought against 270 miners under obscure law previously used by apartheid government

The 270 miners arrested during violent strikes in South Africa have been charged with the murder of their 34 colleagues who were shot dead by police.

The murder charge – and associated charges for the attempted murder of 78 miners injured at the Marikana mine near Johannesburg – was brought by the national prosecuting authority under an obscure Roman-Dutch common law previously used by the apartheid government.

The move came as the men appeared in court charged with public violence over the clashes at the Lonmin platinum mine on 16 August when striking miners armed with clubs, machetes and at least one gun allegedly charged police, who opened fire. It suggests President Jacob Zuma’s government is trying to shift the blame for the killings to the striking miners.

The prosecuting authority said all 270 miners had been charged. Less than one in 10 Lonmin miners turned up for work at the mine on Tuesday, the lowest level since workers returned to work following the clashes. Violence has since spread to Lonmin’s other operations.

The firm said 8% of its 28,000 workers showed up as union protests continued.

Lonmin had initially threatened to sack striking workers.

South African miners charged with murder of colleagues killed by police

Category : Business

Former ANC youth leader calls for ‘revolution in the mining sector’ after charges brought under obscure apartheid-era law

The 270 miners arrested during violent strikes in South Africa have been charged with the murder of their 34 colleagues who were shot dead by police.

The murder charge – and associated charges for the attempted murder of 78 miners injured at the Marikana mine near Johannesburg – was brought by the national prosecuting authority under an obscure Roman-Dutch common law previously used by the apartheid government.

The move came as the men appeared in court charged with public violence over the clashes at the Lonmin platinum mine on 16 August when striking miners armed with clubs, machetes and at least one gun allegedly charged police, who opened fire.

Julius Malema, the former African National Congress Youth League leader, who has called for President Jacob Zuma to resign over the “massacre”, told supporters of miners outside the courthouse that the charges were “madness”.

Malema, who was expelled from the ANC four months ago, said: “The policemen who killed those people are not in custody, not even one of them. This is madness. The whole world saw the policemen kill those people.”

Frank Lesenyego, spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), said: “It’s the police who were shooting, but they were under attack by the protesters, who were armed, so today the 270 accused are charged with the murders [of those who were shot].”

More than 150 of the arrested miners have filed complaints that they have been beaten up in police cells by officers, according to the Independent Police Complaints Directorate.

Directorate spokesman Moses Dlamini said the complainants accused police of beating them with batons and fists and kicking and slapping them to force them to give the names of miners who hacked two police officers to death in a week of violence preceding the shootings. Eight other people were killed, including three miners and two mine security guards whom striking miners burned alive in their vehicle.

Pierre de Vos, Claude Leon Foundation chair in constitutional governance at the University of Cape Town, wrote on his blog that he could not imagine the NPA really believed that “any court will find the miners guilty of murder for the killing of their comrades by the police”.

He added: “The NPA seems wrongly to conflate (either deliberately or out of shocking ignorance) allegations that the miners provoked the police, on the one hand, with allegations that the miners themselves incited the police to shoot at them because they had the intention to commit suicide by getting the police to kill them.”

Police commissioner general Riah Phiyega has faced criticism for saying that her officers “did nothing wrong” and acted in self-defence.

Less than one in 10 Lonmin miners turned up for work at the mine on Tuesday, the lowest level since workers returned to work following the clashes. Violence has since spread to Lonmin’s other operations.

The firm said 8% of its 28,000 workers showed up as union protests continued.

Lonmin had initially threatened to sack striking workers.

Malema said on Thursday that black South Africans are worse off than during apartheid and called for a campaign of nationalisation in South Africa including all iron, platinum and zinc resources.

Staging his political comeback from a liquidated gold mine, Malema launched what he called a “revolution in the mining sector”, according to the Independent.

He told mineworkers not to trust the ANC government. “Every mine had a politician inside,” the 31-year-old said. He added that all miners should be paid a minimum of 12,500 rand (£930) a month, three times the current rate.

Lonmin mine in South Africa hit by fresh violence

Category : Business

Rivalry between striking unions at Marikana mine reignites four days after memorial to miners killed by police

Violence has returned to the Lonmin mine where 34 miners were shot dead by South African police earlier this month.

Police on Monday reported a fresh outbreak of assaults at the platinum mine owned by the London-listed company, which is considering an emergency rights issue in the wake of the dispute.

A long-running rivalry between miners’ unions reignited four days after a memorial service to remember the 44 people who have died during a fortnight of violence at Lonmin’s Marikana mine near Johannesburg.

Striking miners, who are demanding a tripling of their pay, threatened and assaulted other workers as they attempted to go back down the mine, according to reports from the scene. Alfonso Mofokeng, a miner from Lesotho, told the AFP news agency: “We are aware that some people have gone back to work, we have noted that behaviour, and we need to come up with a plan to deal with them.”

Lonmin, which had been hoping to restart production on Monday after a two week shutdown due to the violent protest, said 13% of its 28,000 workers reported for duty. The company said many of its miners were unable to get to work after the protesters threatened bus drivers.

“There have been incidents of intimidation towards bus drivers overnight as well as intimidation of Eastern workers this morning, preventing them coming to work,” a company spokesman said. Until now, the eastern part of Marikana’s operation had remained relatively free of violence.

On Monday, about 2,000 of the striking rock drillers, some carrying sticks and whips, gathered near the site of the “Marikana massacre” where police shot dead 34 striking miners in the worst single outbreak of police violence since the end of apartheid. Five armoured police vehicles and a helicopter were monitoring the situation.

The striking miners are demanding their wages are increased from 4,000 rand (£306) a month to 12,500 rand. The company says most workers are paid about 10,500 rand, if bonuses are included.

In comparison, Lonmin’s chief executive Ian Farmer, who is currently seriously ill in hospital, collected pay and bonuses of £1.2m last year.

Last week, Lonmin promoted its finance director Simon Scott to acting chief executive until Farmer recovers.

The FTSE100 mining company also admitted that it would breach its loan covenants due to the financial impact of the strike, forcing it into talks with its banking syndicate as it considers an emergency rights issue.

The South African independent police investigative directorate said it was investigating claims that more than 100 striking miners were assaulted in police custody. About 260 miners have appeared in court facing charges ranging from intimidation to murder.