August 16, 2013, marked the one-year anniversary of the confrontation between police and striking mine workers and their supporters at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, during which police shot and killed 34 people and wounded 78 others. Union rivalry between the NUM and the AMCU was cited as the primary cause of the violence.
The rivalry has remained a source of violence over the past year, including the murder of an NUM woman shop steward, who was shot and killed as she was walking to work at Marikana on August 12, 2013. An estimated 20 members of both unions have been killed since the violence at Marikana a year ago.
On August 14, Lonmin signed an agreement with AMCU, recognizing AMCU as the dominant union at Marikana. The agreement had a goal of achieving peace and stability at Marikana. Whether that will actually happen remains to be seen.
In other news, on August 19, Anglo Platinum announced plans for restructuring its operations, following consultations with key stakeholders and unions stretching back to February. The company had announced plans in January to reconfigure its Rustenburg operations, with the loss of up to 14,000 jobs. The following uproar led to the consultation process and the new restructuring plan.
Under the new plan, approximately 6,000 operational jobs will be lost, along with the jobs of 900 other corporate employees. The NUM said elements of the plan were unacceptable and if carried through in full could lead to strikes.