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MALOMA MINE WORKERS TAKE STRIKE TO HILL TO AVOID POLICE

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MALOMA – Striking miners at Maloma Colliery have gathered at a nearby hill formed using extracts from the mine deposits amid a strong presence of police officers.
About 270 workers are involved in the ongoing strike.


The miners resorted to do the Marikana-style retreat after a minor confrontation with the police after they tried to cross a barrier line created by the state security apparatus yesterday afternoon.
Workers who spoke to this publication said they did this in fear of a repeat of a clash with the police which was witnessed in Marikana, South Africa, which resulted in the death of 44 people.
About 80 police officers were dispatched to the mine after workers engaged in a strike to force management to agree to their demand of an increment of 80 per cent to their housing allowances.


Police Information and Communications Officer Assistant Superintendent Khulani Mamba said: “There is an ongoing situation at the mine. Police are only there to monitor the situation.”
Mining, Quarrying and Allied Workers Union of Swaziland (MQAWUS) Secretary General Selby Mntshali said the workers felt it would be much more safer for them to retreat to the hill to avoid a confrontation with the police because they meant no harm by demonstrating at the mine premises.


According to Mntshali, the workers have even decided to stage a vigil on the hill to show the extent of their determination to see their grievances being attended to. “All they said they want was for management to return to the negotiation table so that a solution to the impasse is realised,” Mntshali said.
Operations at Maloma colliery came to a halt when the about 270 workers started demonstrating outside the company premises on Monday.


The workers have vowed to continue with their strike until management agrees to their proposed monthly housing allowance of E800.
Action continued yesterday with workers beginning their demonstration at around 8am. Police officers were placed at strategic positions around the mine, while workers continued singing, dancing and chanting slogans to air their grievances. They were carrying sticks as they danced.


The police officers again drew a line which workers were told not to go beyond, as per the interdict which was granted to management by the courts.
The workers tried to pass the ‘danger tapes’, which resulted in a minor confrontation with the law enforcement officers. This forced the workers to retreat to safe nearby hill, to keep a distance from the police.
According to an interdict which was awarded to the mine on Monday, workers were only allowed to demonstrate only about 80 metres from the mine.
The strike is expected to continue even today, as management could not reach an agreement with the union representatives yesterday.


Mntshali, MQAWUS Secretary General, said the union was still waiting for management to return to the negotiation table in order for a possible solution.
Efforts to source comment from management also hit a snag yesterday as the Human Resources Manager, Gabriel Manana, said management was held up in a meeting. “I am sorry my brother, I could not respond to your questionnaire earlier on because we are experiencing a communication problem here. Even now, we are held up in a meeting,” Mamba responded.


This publication later gathered that officials from the ministry of Labour  and Social Security made means to try and mediate between the union and management yesterday. The outcome of that attempt could not be readily available though, as the meeting was still ongoing at the time of going to press.

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