Silence Myakayaka, a worker at Anglo American Platinum’s Waterval smelter, told the committee’s public hearings in Rustenburg, North West, that the minimum wage in the mines should be R8500 because of the demanding nature of the work and the cost of living.
“When I started to work in the mines in 2002 I earned R3300. I was able to afford living then; now the cost of living has increased.”
National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) area chairman Godfrey Nthutang said underground workers should be paid R9500.
He said the NUM’s 10-year plan promised a minimum wage in 2018.
“R12,500 is the plan of the NUM.”
He said a minimum wage was a complex issue.
“We must not lie to workers, this is a complex issue. Consider medical deduction, tax, and pension contributions.”
He pleaded with the committee to change the lives of the people as required by the Freedom Charter.
Platinum mines in Rustenburg have experienced labour unrest since 2012 with workers going on strike demanding a basic monthly salary of R12,500.
In January this year the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) led a five-month strike demanding a monthly salary of R12,500.
The strike ended in June when the union signed a three-year wage deal with mining companies Impala Platinum, Anglo American Platinum, and Lonmin.
The settlement saw workers’ salaries increase by R1000 in the first two years of the agreement. In the third year salaries would increase by R950.
In August 2012 rock drill operators at Lonmin rejected NUM and spearheaded a wildcat strike, demanding to be paid R12,500 per month.
Forty-four people were killed during the strike. Thirty-four people died on August 16, 2012, when police fired at them, apparently attempting to disarm and disperse them at Nkaneng informal settlement in Wonderkop near Rustenburg.
Ten other people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed in the preceding week.
President Jacob Zuma appointed retired judge Ian Farlam to chair a commission of inquiry to probe the deaths.
The commission has completed its work and is expected to hand its findings and recommendations to Zuma by March.