“This is the line. We are drawing the line like they drew the line,” he told hundreds of Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union members in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg.
“Comrades, we are not to be threatened.”
Hundreds of Amcu members gathered at platinum miner Lonmin’s offices to hand over a memorandum of demands. The union has been on strike in the platinum sector for over two months.
Addressing union members sitting in the road, Mathunjwa said platinum companies should go back to the negotiating table to end the strike in the sector.
“We are not apologetic,” he said.
“If they are saying they are not feeling the pinch of the strike they are lying,” he said. The crowd shouted “yes, yes, yes” and punched the air.
Amcu members at Lonmin, Anglo American Platinum, and Impala Platinum downed tools on January 23. They had so far rejected a wage increase of up to nine percent. The companies, in turn, rejected Amcu’s revised demand that the R12,500 could be achieved over four years.
Last week, mining bosses said the strike had caused irreparable harm, and losses of an estimated R10 billion in revenue.
Mathunjwa told the crowd Amcu was singing the “same song” it did when the “Marikana massacre” happened in August 2012. Forty-four people died during an unprotected strike at Lonmin Platinum’s mine in Marikana, North West, in August 2012.
Mathunjwa said it was the same Lonmin management at present that made the promises of R12,500 after the deaths at Marikana.
“Move away from 9.5 percent and deliver on R12,500 promises made by the [Lonmin] CEO,” he said.
“Negotiate in good faith… Companies come back to the table, let’s negotiate the four-years agreement.”
He said after Marikana, Amcu hoped Lonmin would negotiate with maturity.
“They have not learned anything from Marikana,” he said, referring to Lonmin’s plans to get traditional leaders to speak to mineworkers.
As Mathunjwa spoke, people in the crowd cheered in the blistering sun, with several seeking shade under umbrellas.