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Striking South African miners, company reach deal

From Nkepile Mabuse, CNN
September 19, 2012 -- Updated 0206 GMT (1006 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lonmin confirms it has agreed to settlement
  • Final offer from Lonmin mining company gives miners raises of up to 22%
  • 34 miners were killed last month in a clash with police

Johannesburg, South Africa (CNN) -- Miners at a South African platinum operation where 34 co-workers were killed in a clash with police will end their strike after a wage agreement was reached, officials said Tuesday.

Work at the mine will resume Thursday.

Zolisa Bodlani, one of the striking miners' representatives, and the National Union of Mineworkers said the workers have accepted the Lonmin mining company's offer of about 9,000 rand (about $1,084) a month for general minimum wage workers and about 11,000 rand (about $1,325) a month for rock drill operators.

According to Lonmin's final offer, the total guaranteed pay represents increases of between 11% and 22% more than the miners' pre-strike pay packages, including wages and benefits such as housing allowances and medical aid.

The settlement was signed in Rustenburg late Tuesday.

Police opened fire on protesters at the Marikana mine last month.

South African authorities at first charged 270 miners with murder before dropping the charges pending further investigation.

Lonmin said workers also will get a 2,000-rand (about $243) signing bonus.

"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," acting Chief Executive Simon Scott said in a statement. "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."

South Africa has witnessed a vicious rivalry between two unions -- the dominant and established National Union of Mineworkers and the splinter Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which has been encroaching on the former's role.

The National Union of Mineworkers is a close ally of the country's ruling African National Congress (ANC). The striking miners, according to several South African media outlets, felt they not been adequately represented by the battling unions.

Political analyst Khehla Shubane said the power of the ANC is perceived to rest on the power of unions.

"No longer will the view that unions will continue to support the ANC uncritically be supported by evidence on the ground," Shubane told CNN on Tuesday.

CNN's Robyn Curnow and Moni Basu contributed to this report.

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