South Africa: 25 October 2012 – a Day of Reckoning At Marikana

reckoningPay-day approaches for miners at Lonmin’s Marikana facility, and rumours are rife that the promised 22% pay increase due some workers won’t materialise. Meantime, Lonmin’s finances are looking shaky. Could month’s end bring more chaos?

The core of the strikers at Lonmin’s Marikana facility, the rock drill operators, will apparently get a 22% increase after the month-long stay away. In the aftermath of the bloodiest strike since Fordsburg in 1922, miners managed to get the almost mythically aloof and absent Lonmin management to agree to sizeable wage increases.

Yet the miners of Lonmin anxiously await what their salary slips will reveal.

One of the drillers, Zeacks*, spoke to DM about being back at work.

Zeacks has been the subject of previous articles in the DM, including why miners went on strike, and what happened to them at the horror of Small Koppie on 16 August.

He is warily excited about his upcoming increase, due to land in his bank account this week. He hopes his salary is to be increased to about R11,000 a month. This would be enough to pay off, over a couple of months, the money he owed the mashonisa, or moneylenders.

Ever since he had “a problem” last November, Zeacks has borrowed R3,500 per month, every month. Every payday, the garnishee order takes off the principal amount plus interest, which comes to R4,100.

This means that with his pre-raise salary, he could not come out. Coming out includes supporting his wife and children back in the Eastern Cape, and existing in his one-room shack on the outskirts of Marikana. So, every month, he returns to the moneylender and gets that R3,500 to see him through until payday.

Come either Thursday 25, or Friday 26th October, Zeacks is hoping to see his new increased salary recorded, but he is starting to have doubts that the amount will match his expectations.

A fellow worker went to the Lonmin pay division office as he was applying for a home loan. He needed proof of payment for the bank, and the expected hefty increase would help secure the mortgage. When staff there told him his salary was now R6,000, he said they were confused, as that was just a little above his old salary. They shrugged, and said that they were just telling him what they saw on the system.

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