* Four injured in unrest at Gold One mine "shoot-out"
* Government talks with Lonmin, unions go nowhere
* Striking Marikana miners want more than double present pay
By Ed Cropley
JOHANNESBURG, Sept 3 South African police fired
teargas and rubber bullets to disperse striking miners at a gold
mine near Johannesburg on Monday, the latest outbreak in a wave
of labour militancy spreading from platinum mining into other
parts of the sector.
The unrest occurred less than three weeks after police shot
dead 34 striking miners at Lonmin's Marikana
mine, the bloodiest security incident since the end of
white-minority rule in 1994.
The Marikana shooting shocked South Africa and marred the
image of the continent's biggest economy, as the full extent of
a breakdown in labour relations in the mines became apparent.
South Africa is home to 80 percent of known platinum
reserves and the price of the precious metal, used in jewellery
and car catalytic converters, has risen more than 10 percent
since the violence erupted.
In Monday's incident, mine owner Gold One International Ltd
said about 60 workers at its Modder East site went on a
wildcat strike, blocking half its employees from reporting for
"The group, however, refused to disperse. The South African
Police Service had to use teargas and rubber bullets to disperse
the group," it said in a statement.
Police spokeswoman Pinky Tsinyane said four people were
injured in the incident, which she described as a "shoot-out"
between protesting ex-miners, miners and security guards.
"Police are investigating a case of attempted murder," she
said, adding that four arrests had been made. "We understand
that the ex-miners were assaulting the miners who were coming to
work this morning."
In a separate dispute - but one born of similar social
conditions - an illegal strike involving a quarter of the
46,000-strong workforce at the KCD East gold mine, owned by
world No. 4 bullion producer Gold Fields, entered its
third working day.
MARIKANA MINERS RELEASED
The Marikana unrest stemmed ultimately from a turf war in
the platinum sector between the dominant National Union of
Mineworkers (NUM) and the small but militant Association of
Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).
The government has been trying to broker a peace accord to
cool off the feud before it does lasting damage to the platinum
industry and spreads across the mining sector, which accounts
for 8 percent of South African economic output.
On Monday, the first of 270 miners detained at the Marikana
shootings were released from police custody after prosecutors
withdrew murder charges brought under an obscure apartheid-era
security law for the police killing of their colleagues.
The public outcry at the murder charges soured the already
testy relationship between the unions, Lonmin management and the
government, which has been trying to put a lid on the mess and
end a wildcat strike approaching its fourth week.
However, three-way talks ended without any progress on
Monday. The Department of Labour said the negotiations would
resume on Wednesday.
Lonmin shares rose nearly 4 percent in early trade on hopes
for a resumption of mining, but lost most of those gains as
hopes of a breakthrough faded. Lonmin said only 4.5 percent of
its shift workers turned up on Monday.
"An indefinite strike will ultimately threaten the jobs of
more than 40,000 workers. We cannot go on indefinitely without
normalising operations and still escape the consequences of the
mine not being operational," it said in a statement.
Many of the AMCU-affiliated miners accuse the NUM of caring
more about its political connections to the ruling African
National Congress than about the plight of workers deep
The 3,000 striking Marikana workers are mostly rock drill
operators demanding 12,500 rand ($1,500) a month in basic wages,
more than double what they receive now.