Johannesburg - Cosatu and the NUM would lead the way in fighting for better wages for mineworkers in all sectors, the trade federation's general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said in Saturday.
“(The national union of mineworkers) will go now to the forefront and will lead the struggle of mineworkers across of all the sectors of the mining sector,” Vavi told miners near Carletonville.
He said the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) would lead the struggle of all workers in the country.
“The wages have been suppressed for far too long. It is now time for us to take the battle to where it belongs. To the employer.”
Vavi was addressing hundreds of striking Gold Fields workers gathering at the KDC west mine.
Workers at Gold Fields have been on strike for 20 days and demanded a monthly pay of R12 500 after deductions.
He said the R12 500 salary for rock drillers was a fair and legitimate demand “and we must pursue that amount together”.
He ensured Cosatu was not calling for an illegal mining strike, but said the federation was urging the Chamber of Mines to come to the negotiation table.
“To us it seems we have no choice but to open (wage) negotiations now.”
Otherwise the chamber risked continued wildcat strikes across the mining sector, Vavi said.
Before his arrival the miners sang and danced in anticipation.
Some were carrying posters which read: “We can't go back to work tomorrow without R12 500, equalisation, keys from NUM office, original pay slips”.
One of the miner's representatives Sibongile Ngqwena said they called Vavi to the mine on Saturday because their leaders have let them down.
“We called Mr Vavi today because we need support from Mr Vavi, because we need this R12 500, because we don't have the support from NUM leadership. He promised to come and give us this support.”
Last week NUM president Senzeni Zokwana told striking mineworkers the union would meet the Chamber of Mines to discuss wages of mine workers nationally.
He said they would discuss a minimum wage for workers in both the coal and gold mining sector.
However, Ngqwena said they have not heard anything from him.
“Since he came here he failed to support us, he failed to represent us.”
Earlier this month, Gold Fields secured a court interdict to end the wildcat strike. The court found that the strike was unlawful and ordered that workers return to work immediately.
Spokesman Sven Lunsche said the court order had been ignored. - Sapa