Sunday, August 19, 2012

We told you so

 A massacre by South African police left 34 striking workers dead and 78 wounded. A T-shirt worn by a protest rally organiser seemed to offer a explanation, stating: "Fuck capitalism.". It was the promise of a militant union that sparked violence at Marikana, where the ANC-aligned National Union of Mineworkers has been losing support. The 360,000-member National Union of Mineworkers leader, Cyril Ramaphosa sits on the board of Lonmin, which owns the platinium mine where the shootings occurred. The NUM has lost all credibility. Its already well-paid secretary, Baleni, was awarded a salary increase of more than 40% last year and his total salary package is just more than R105 000 a month.The union has accepted wage settlements that tied workers into years of meagre increases. At the Lonmin mines its membership has declined from 66% of workers to 49%. "Lonmin treat us like dogs," said Thembelani Khonto. "When you're underground, it's like you're a slave and they don't know you. But on the surface people who don't do anything in offices are earning more than us."

Dissident and expelled union activists started a new union, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union. The AMCU placed a pay demand for rock drillers (who are the core of this strike and do the hardest work underground). The union's support in the Lonmin mines shot up to 19% by last month, and it embarked on an illegal strike to force its pay demand. The AMCU is also organising among poor workers and their shack settlement communities, which have become no-go zones for police. For these settlements, this is a strike against the state and the haves, not just a union matter.

Socialist Banner in many previous posts have exposed the ANC of continuing the apartheid-era exploitation of the working class and sadly concludes that the latest bloody episode in South Africa's class war vindicates our position.  The Sowetan newspaper in an editorial also questioned what has changed since 1994. "It has happened in this country before where the apartheid regime treated black people like objects. It is continuing in a different guise now."

While workers bleed the capitalists response is predictable. World platinum prices rise and Lonmin shares slump

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