Intimidating strike dampd
In the shantytowns, where they live in makeshift tin shacks, outside toilets are shared among up to 50 people.There are few water taps, raw sewage leaks from burst pipes, and children scavenge in rubbish dumps.
On 17 September, president Jacob Zuma bemoaned the fact that strikes across the platinum and gold mines have cost the industry R4.5bn (£335m). In most of these battles, the workers have been pitted against not only the mining bosses but also the misleaders of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the largest component of the COSATU trade union federation that is part of the ruling Tripartite Alliance along with the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP).Now, having been expelled from the party earlier this year, he goes around denouncing ANC and NUM leaders as “bloodsuckers”.As always, he spews racialist demagogy in order to divert workers from a class understanding of the neo-apartheid order.Their article stressed: “ The fight to defend brokered workers should be tied to a struggle to organize the unorganized and to defend immigrant workers and others of the most oppressed layers in the working class” (see “For a Class-Struggle Fight Against Labor Broker Parasites! Increasingly, the lower-paid mine workers have been leaving the NUM to join AMCU, the union which originated as a split from the NUM in 1998.Outrageously, NUM bureaucrats and SACP spokesmen have called for state repression against AMCU, which has been violence-baited by COSATU leaders.Government statistics tracking mine fatalities — on average one miner in South Africa dies every three days in underground accidents — deliberately understate the dangers by not including those miners who contract tuberculosis, silicosis and other work-related diseases.
These victims of brutal exploitation are simply sent back to their homes in rural areas or in neighbouring countries to die.
Even though the national NUM office got strikers back to work a week later by suspending the local union leadership, soon another 15,000 launched a wildcat strike at another section of the mine demanding resignation of the local NUM leaders.
In the aftermath of the massacre, considerable evidence has surfaced proving that trigger-happy cops hunted down and killed strikers in cold blood.
In general, revolutionaries favour maximum unity in struggle.
But we do not automatically condemn all splits within the trade union movement; these must be judged on a case by case basis. And we defend the right of workers to be represented by AMCU if they so wish.
As the SSA has written: “The Malema/ANCYL nationalisation policies are bourgeois reform schemes which would not end the superexploitation of the mineworkers.