Apr.08 - As the biggest mining strike in South Africa's history enters its 11th week Hayley Platt looks at the impact it's having on local people and local businesses.
It's been 11 weeks since South Africa's platinum miners walked out over pay. And it's hitting miners hard. The industry operates on a no-work-no-pay principle. (SOUNDBITE) (English/Sotho) STRIKING MINER, BILLIE APPIES, SAYING: "Financially, we are broke... to tell you the honest truth, because the only option is to only surrender your policy to survive and lose out, life is difficult here in Marikana." Mining firm Lonmin estimates the industry is spending more than 6 million dollars a day less than usual on goods and services, mostly in local economies like Marikana. It and other mining centres are now at risk of becoming ghost towns. And there's no sign yet of any breakthrough. Unions are seeking annual pay rises of 30% for the next three years, while the companies are offering 9%. Loane Sharp is a labour analyst. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ECONOMIC LABOUR ANALYST, LOANE SHARP, SAYING: "There is such a ridiculous gap between workers demands and what the platinum producers can afford, that they are never going to reach a settlement. I think drastic action is called for, the first is for the platinum producers, and I would unilaterally and independently implement their best affordable wage offer." Forty percent of global production has been hit by the strike. And the three mining firms involved say they can't afford to pay any more. Ben Magara is Lonmin's CEO. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LONMIN CEO, BEN MAGARA, SAYING: "We are working hard but it's difficult because the economic realities of our business is such that your demand is unaffordable." South Africa's economic growth is being damaged too. The central bank has revised its forecast down from 2.8% to 2.6%. Exports and the rand are also vulnerable. One industry website puts the total cost of the strike at $1.6 billion dollars.