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South African Police Use Force to Disperse Striking Miners

October 30, 2012

by VOA News

South African police have used force to disperse striking miners who are refusing to return to work until their pay demands are met.

The unrest came after miners with Anglo American Platinum, or Amplats, defied an offer to return to work Tuesday.

Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the miners after a power station at Amplats' Rustenburg mine near Johannesburg was set on fire.

The miners are among 12,000 workers Amplats fired after they staged a wildcat strike at the Rustenburg mine.

The company said it would reinstate the miners if they returned to work by Tuesday and offered a one-time payment of about $230. The miners are demanding $1,800 in monthly pay.

The miners want a major pay raise like the one Lonmin gave its platinum miners after they went on strike in August.

Illegal strikes by South African mine workers have intensified since police opened fire on striking employees at the Lonmin platinum mine and killed 34 people. Police said they were firing in self-defense.

Lonmin's 22 percent pay hike influenced workers at other mines to demand better pay and work conditions.

The strikes prompted mining companies to issue ultimatums to workers to return to work or face dismissal.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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