We salute the heroic mine workers and their families who have held out for 3 months on strike. They are a shining beacon to the entire working class in SA, in the region and internationally!
Platinum mineworkers at Anglo American, Implats and Lonmin have been on strike since 23rd January for their reasonable and legitimate demand of a minimum of R12 500 per month. Labour Research Service (LRS) showed in a report in 2012 that the top 9 mines made an average profit of R39 billion each. This was enough to pay 2.3 million workers a wage of R12 500. Even though profits fell in 2012 it was still an average of R17 billion each for the top mines, that is enough to pay over 1 million mineworkers a wage of R12 500. While the 2012 strike wave was on, the Amplats CEO received a 68% increase in remuneration to R21 million, the Implats CEO earned R13 million while the Lonmin CEO earned R12 million. That is, while the Marikana massacre was taking place, the Lonmin CEO was earning R33 000 per day, while claiming they had no money! ALL mines can afford to pay R12 500 as a minimum wage. Yet the bosses refuse! Research from Newman and Fine shows that Anglo American and other mining monopolies have been stealing hundreds of billions of Rands by mislabelling and under-invoicing for at least the past 50 years. In this way they have stolen hundreds in billions that they did not declare to SARS. SARS, the government, the SACP and the Cosatu leaders are fully aware of this theft yet they refuse to prosecute Anglo American and others. In 2007, the mining companies stole 20% of GDP, namely they stole over R600 billion. The ANC, SACP and Cosatu leaders have accepted mining shares and in some cases positions on the Boards of mining companies as bribes to keep silent, while Anglo American continues to steal, not only from the masses in South Africa but from the masses across Africa where the same transfer price theft is being perpetrated. Tito Mboweni, instead of prosecuting Anglo American, was on the Board of Anglo Gold; the SACP has shares in Tamboti Platinum, a joint venture with Implats; the head of Cosatu Investments is on the Board of Bokoni Platinum, a joint venture with Anglo American! Not surprising, the Num leaders, who are also on the NEC of ANC and CC of SACP, are calling for mine workers to accept low wages. At the same time, mine worker leaders like Siphamandla Makhanya and Jacob Khoza are being victimized by the state and arrested on false charges. Now the NUM and Cosatu leaders have called on the police to act against strikers, just as they did before the Marikana massacre in 2012.
Why is it important for the entire working class to support the strikers?
For the past 360 years + the masses in Africa have been resisting the theft and oppression by colonial rulers and now by the imperialist corporations and states. The simple demand of wanting control over the wealth that we produce, is being led by the Platinum mineworkers. The capitalists, the ANC and SACP leaders are united against the strikers as they want low wages and exploitation to continue. The hundreds of billions that Anglo American is stealing every year could have paid for free health care, decent housing for all, decent jobs for all, free, quality education for all up to the highest level. Yet the ANC and SACP leaders do not want this to happen. If they had wanted to really defend workers’ interests, then SARS would long ago have prosecuted Anglo American. If any ordinary person was late with tax they would have been hounded by SARS and would have had to pay massive payments in interest and penalties. The mining companies are used to make super-profits, no matter if it means the hunger, starvation, homelessness and early death of millions.
The mining bosses are sitting on stockpiles of platinum so they can hold out longer; they are hoping that workers would starve and give in; they want workers to be divided and begin to fight each other. The mining bosses want to smash the strike and if they succeed then they will immediately start mass retrenchment of mineworkers, not only in platinum, but in the gold, chrome and other sectors. The millions of workers who are dependent on the mineworkers will be pushed into deeper starvation and early death. BUT also, if the mine bosses succeed in defeating the mineworkers, every other worker, in the motor, metal, engineering, food processing, retail, transport and other sectors will also face lower wages and mass retrenchments. Anglo American controls all the sectors in South Africa, they control the Reserve Bank, the other banks, large commercial farms, the electricity sector, everything. Food and transport prices will go up even further.
We call for the immediate setting up of mineworker solidarity committees throughout the country, region and extending internationally. This campaign should begin to tackle all imperialist mines across Africa.
A Practical programme of solidarity with the strikers
1. The calling of general meetings on all the mines to set up committees that will unite workers irrespective of which union they belong to (AMCU, NUM, Solidarity, Numsa, etc) or even if they do not belong to any union; the setting up of worker task teams from among the strikers to visit every mine to promote the setting up of these joint solidarity committees.
2. The mine solidarity committees should also include reps from the surrounding worker communities;
3. There could be mobilisation for marches and solidarity actions to demand that SARS and the govt immediately collect the unpaid taxes that Anglo American and other mines have not paid over the past 50 years; These marches and mobilisation should lay the basis for the occupation and seizure of the mines by the workers by the mine workers and surrounding mine workers communities. The mine worker committees should set up committees of self defence against police brutality. The entire working class should be mobilised in support of this as here are the means for achieving all our demands on housing, service delivery, education, health care, transport, etc. The Freedom Charter talks about nationalization, the EFF, Numsa leaders, Wasp, all talk about nationalization but no one is prepared to put in place a practical plan to achieve it. Here is a plan for workers for workers’ to seize and run the mines. Numsa talks about a United Front, here is a practical plan for a United Front for nationalization and workers’ control of the mines.
4. The strike solidarity committees should immediately go to the related engineering and transport sectors to call for solidarity support from these workers in mine seizure and occupation and other forms of solidarity with the striking mineworkers. Any mine that dares to attempt to retrench even a single worker should be taken over and run by the workers.
5. Workers at all workplaces and in all working class communities should call general meetings to discuss what form of solidarity actions can be taken, through collection of finances, pickets, protests and other forms of solidarity action to ensure a victory for the mineworkers. If they win we all win.
6. If there is no immediate, minimum wage of R12 500 a month for all mineworkers, collection of the unpaid taxes and funds stolen by Anglo American and other mines over the past 50 years, then we call for a total boycott of the 2014 elections and take-over of the mines and running thereof by the workers, without compensation to the capitalists. For those workers who may be victimised if they do not vote, we support them going to the polls to spoil the ballot by writing their demands on it.
Workers International Vanguard Party 1st Floor, Community House, 41 Salt River rd, Salt River, 7925 ph 021 4476777 ph or sms 0822020617 email email@example.com website www.workersinternational.org.za Facebook: Workers International Vanguard Party WIVP 27.4.2014 FORWARD TO A NEW REVOLUTIONARY, WORKING CLASS PARTY! FORWARD TO SOCIALISM!