* Police fire on strikers at Amplats mines near Rustenburg
* One miner injured; workers want wage rises to match Lonmin
* Amplats says still gathering details on attendance
* Tensions ease at other South African mines
By Sherilee Lakmidas
RUSTENBURG, South Africa, Oct 30 South African
police fired rubber bullets and teargas on Tuesday at striking
Amplats miners who were protesting against a
union-brokered deal to end a six-week wildcat walkout at the top
As they moved into a shanty town near the mines, p olice also
d eployed w ater cannons and stun grenades a gainst groups of
protesters armed with wooden sticks and stones. Women and
children fled as they fanned out through the maze of tin huts.
One protester was dragged away bleeding heavily and unable
to walk, and was treated by paramedics, a Reuters witness said.
The strikers at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) mines near
Rustenburg, 120 km (70 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, had
been due to return to work following a company offer to
reinstate 12,000 men sacked for downing tools six weeks ago.
"We are not giving up, we will soldier on," said striker
J ohn Tonsi, who had been shot in the leg by a r ubber bullet. "We
will fight for our cause until management comes to its senses."
Months of labour unrest in the mines have hit platinum and
gold output, threatened growth in Africa's biggest economy and
drawn criticism of President Jacob Zuma for his handling of the
most damaging strikes since the end of apartheid in 1994.
Amplats said at the weekend it had reached a deal with
several unions and would be offering sweeteners, such as a
one-off hardship payment of 2,000 rand ($230), to end a strike
that has crippled production.
A return to work on Tuesday was one of the conditions
attached to the deal.
However, at Amplats' Thembelani mine, hundreds of miners
barricaded a road with burning tyres, and p o lice said an
electricity s ub-station at an o ther mi ne w as set alight.
Amplats said it was still working out attendance numbers at
its four strike-hit Rustenburg mines. F or the past few weeks,
fe wer t han 20 percent of st aff have been turning up.
The strikes have shone a harsh spotlight on South Africa's
persistent i ncome inequality a nd the promise by N elson Mandela's
Afr ican National Congress (ANC) to build "a better life for all"
fol lowing the end of white-minority rule.
The strikes have also been a major test for Zuma, who faces
an ANC leadership election i n December.
E ven though h is handling of the unrest has caused internal
party concern, he remains favourite to w in r e-election, t eeing
him up for another five years as national president from 2014.
Management threats of mass dismissals, along with pay
sweeteners, have ended most of the strikes in the last two
weeks, but workers at Thembelani said they were determined to
Their main demand is for Amplats to match a salary increase
of up to 22 percent offered by rival Lonmin after a
violent wildcat walkout at its nearby Marikana platinum mine in
The Lonmin offer came in the wake of the police killing of
34 miners on Aug. 16, the bloodiest security incident since
apartheid. Lonmin said on Tuesday it wanted to raise $800
million via a rights issue to help it recover from the strikes
MacDonald Motsaathebe, who has been with Amplats for 12
years, said workers did not agree to the deal struck at the
weekend between Amplats and unions including the National Union
"We didn't agree to the offer. We want 16,000 rand. Lonmin
miners got it, and we want it," said the 35-year-old, whose
salary supports nine people. "We earn peanuts."
Strikers at gold firms including AngloGold Ashanti
and Gold Fields returned to work last week after
threats of mass dismissals and an offer of a small pay increase.