Oct.03 - Concerns are growing about long-term damage to South Africa's mining industry after the eviction of 2,000 striking gold miners from their company-owned accommodation. Ivor Bennett reports.
Mining is a massive industry in South Africa and a job often comes with a home. That makes for a high stakes game when strikes occur. Few doubt that after 45 deaths in August in clashes at Lonmin's platinum mine. And the crisis is far from over. Thousands of gold workers, who downed tools last month, are now being forced from their homes. 2,000 eviction notices have been issued at Gold Fields KDC mine residence. And strikers say the company won't negotiate with them. (SOUNDBITE) (Setswana) STRIKING GOLD FIELD MINE WORKER, PAUL MAHABULE, SAYING: "They are threatening to shoot us at the hostel, so that's why we came up here. We don't want to fight with anyone, all we need is a salary increase because we work hard underground." It was a gathering like this which led to August's deadly police operation at Lonmin's Marikana mine. An inquiry into the deaths is underway but some - like economist Lebohang Pheko - fear it won't solve the problem. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ECONOMIST, LEBOHANG PHEKO, SAYING: "We have begun to talk about the strike season and institutionalised it and it's a key feature of the South African political calendar. What seems to be emerging is that these are not only labour disputes but these are kind of measures of discourse, discontent and unhappiness." 75,000 miners - that's almost a sixth of the industry's total workforce - are currently taking illegal strike action. Gold, platinum and now iron ore production is being hit. The action is threatening the growth of Africa's biggest economy - and it was already shaky before the crisis erupted. Ivor Bennett, Reuters.