Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

MINERS returned to work on Wednesday at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, ending a one-day illegal stoppage, a trade unionist said.

"The guys have gone back to work," Gideon du Plessis, deputy general secretary of the Solidarity trade union, said.

Solidarity represents skilled workers and was not part of the strike that coincided with a site visit by journalists.

Independent confirmation could not immediately be made.

Thousands of workers went on a wildcat strike at the mine on Tuesday, embarrassing Lonmin, the world’s third-largest platinum producer, as it hosted a media tour in a bid to show it had recovered from months of deadly labour unrest.

Disruptions at Marikana are particularly closely watched as it was the site where 34 striking miners were shot dead by police in August in South Africa’s deadliest security incident since the end of apartheid in 1994. A commission of inquiry into the violence at the mine is under way.

Workers at two of the four shafts involved in the stoppage had already returned on Tuesday.

The strike was led by members of the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), who were demanding the closure of the offices of the rival National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on the grounds that it is no longer the largest body representing workers there.

The turf war between Amcu and the NUM, which is a powerful ally of the African National Congress, was at the heart of much of the unrest that hit the platinum and gold mining sectors last year, triggering labour violence that killed more than 50 people.

Reuters