South Africa on Friday revived mediation efforts in its platinum belt, aiming to contain labour discontent among mineworkers following the nation's deadliest police action since apartheid.
Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant was headed to the area in the north of the country where 44 died last week in clashes at Lonmin's Marikana mine, a day after countrywide memorials were held for the dead.
Meanwhile operations restarted at other platinum mines in the region -- but not at Marikana -- while managers and workers' representatives hammered out wage agreements.
Oliphant "has got a meeting with unions, most of the unions, the big unions and the big federations" in Rustenburg, the main city in the platinum-rich region, spokesman Musa Zondi told AFP.
"The Department of Labour ... is interested in the economic growth of the country. It is in that spirit that she goes to the meeting," he said.
He declined to comment on what issues she planned to discuss, but noted that salaries, housing and working conditions were topics for unions and employers rather than the ministry.
The world's third biggest platinum producer said nearly 24 percent of its 28,000 work force at Marikana signed in on Friday, forcing it to suspend mining yet another day.
"Mining operations will only resume once we have sufficient workers in attendance and the necessary safety procedures have been undertaken," Lonmin said in a statement.
It said earlier that striking workers would not be punished during a week of mourning for the dead, which started on Monday.
About 3,000 rock drill operators at the Lonmin mine launched an illegal strike on August 10 that quickly devolved into clashes with non-strikers.
Ten people including two police were killed, leading to the crackdown on August 16 when police gunned down 34 armed miners. Police insist that they used teargas first and only opened fire after miners shot at them. The miners say they were armed with only spears, machetes and clubs.
Workers demanded a wage increase to 12,500 rands ($1,500, 1,200 euros), claiming to earn only 4,000 rands.
Lonmin says that when their bonuses and other allowances are included, the workers earn around 11,000 rand, with a nine-percent increase set to kick in on October 1.
South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday named a judicial probe with a wide-ranging mandate to investigate not only the violence but also the labour conditions at the mines.
"Lonmin will co-operate fully with the commission," the company said.
Meanwhile around 100 workers at Anglo American Platinum's Thembelani mine refused to go down the shafts on Friday, demanding a meeting with managers.
"We appeal to our workers to remain calm and to refrain from violent acts during this period," the world's largest platinum producer said in a statement.
Down the road workers took up tools again at the Royal Bafokeng Platinum mine, after 600 refused to work on Wednesday.
"Things are normalised and employees have gone underground," spokeswoman Kea Kalebe told AFP.
The company, which belongs to the local Bafokeng tribe, met with unions on Thursday.
"The delegation of workers made a formal list of demands, among them the 12,500 rands wage increase," she said.
"It was agreed that those issues are going to be resolved inside the normal structures and the company is not in a position to negotiate. All the parties are bound with a wage agreement until June 2014."© ANP/AFP