richardsbaymineralsCity Press reports that an uneasy sense of calm has returned to Rio Tinto’s Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) mine on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, which resumed operations this week after violent community protests forced a shutdown last week.  

But, the return to work may be short-lived as the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which has a 70% majority among the 4,000-strong workforce, is threatening action over the company’s decision to force permanent staff to take paid leave during the shutdown, and the ‘no work, no pay’ policy for contract workers.  Residents of the Sokhulu and Mbonambi communities burnt four mine vehicles and blocked access roads with burning tyres and logs in an attempt to force the company to employ more locals.  The protesters, who held a march outlining their grievances on 25 April, also claimed the company had failed to meet its commitments for community development programmes, and they wanted more money for skills training and more opportunities for local businesspeople to tender for RBM contracts.

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