Open letter to the members of AMCU, NUM and NUMSA on the attacks by Anglo American at Amplats and the killings of mineworkers and their leaders

The bosses want to divide the workers

We should remember that Anglo American is an international company that has learnt all the dirty tricks of how to control and smash workers struggles around the world. One of their tricks is ‘divide and rule’.  We should not be surprised if some capitalist paid somebody to kill Amcu regional organiser Mawethu Khululekile and then go and kill some NUM members. Whoever is behind the killing is hoping that Amcu members will now attack Num members and that Num members will attack Amcu members. The only ones who will benefit out of this will be the bosses of Anglo American.

Num leaders are saying that they will prepare to defend themselves from attacks from Amcu while the Amcu leaders call on workers to go on strike to demand the closure of Num offices. Both leaderships are wrong as this will only promote worker to attack worker and the bosses will be laughing at the foolishness of the workers. The bosses will start to retrench even more workers across the industry and even more broadly in other sectors.

What we need is to rebuild and strengthen the independent worker committees that unite all mineworkers, irrespective of union affiliation. The central demand should be to expropriate Anglo American under workers control, without compensation to the bosses.

Why are the Anglo American bosses retrenching workers now?

When the price of Platinum was $400 the bosses were still making profits; the price is now over $1400, so it is clear that the bosses are still making huge profits; further the Rand devalued by about R1 since last year- this means from each unit sold, the bosses are getting R400 extra just by the Rand value to the dollar going from R8 to R9. Thus for every million ounces, just from the devaluing of the rand, Anglo American is making R400 million more. Clearly the company is not losing money. So why are they retrenching 6000 workers and why is the government supporting the mass dismissal? The bosses realize that the mineworkers strike last year was part of a revolt against the capitalist system, the same type of revolt that is shaking the bosses all over the world. We can see in other sectors, the community struggles against lack of decent housing and services, the farm worker struggles, the truck drivers and now the bus drivers are all standing up in revolt. The Anglo American bosses want to dismiss the 6000 workers to intimidate all mineworkers and indeed the whole working class, they want to break the spirit of resistance. This threat of dismissal of the 6000 workers is a political attack on the entire working class. If the capitalists can get this right, they will start mass dismissing workers at the other mines and even in other sectors.

The state supports the crackdown on the workers

The ANC govt has colluded with the Anglo American bosses to smash the workers and to prevent a revolution. Firstly, they support that 5000 workers be retrenched- they sat in secret meetings with the bosses where the union delegates were excluded. In 2007 and for forty years before that Anglo American stole trillions from the country through mislabelling and direct theft, without even paying tax on it; here is the funds for jobs for all, decent houses for all and for meeting all the needs of the whole of the region; yet the ANC govt does not act against Anglo American, the govt acts to support mass dismissal of workers! Secondly, the ANC govt is implementing the plan of the World Bank, ie the representatives of the super-rich, the imperialists, to stop revolution around the globe. This plan in South Africa is called the NDP, the National Development Plan. Part of this plan is to manipulate the currency so that it devalues when the price of metals fall. This is what happened over the past few months; the bosses received more Rands for their exports, but still the ANC govt supports the mass dismissal of workers. This shows the ANC govt will do anything to stop the workers revolution in SA. The judgement in the Andries Tatane case, where the police who murdered him were all freed, is a preparation for the police who murdered the strikers at Marikana to be freed. What this means is that a special militarised police unit has been set up to shoot down any mass worker protest  in future. The Anglo American imperialists realize that the ANC govt is losing its ability to control the masses so they also need to use brute force to put down rebellion or to intimidate the masses to prevent a revolution. The police and other armed wings of the state are being prepared to act without any fear of being called to order.

The way forward

The first demand should be that all those responsible for the murder of the Amcu organiser and Num members on Sat 11th May 2013 should be arrested. Stop the killing! We know we cannot depend on the state to do anything to catch these killers, so we need to self organise:

1.                   Set up joint workers committees on all mines with self-defence committees as part of these. (these should include all the unions that operate on the mines, such as Amcu, Num, Solidarity, Uasa, Numsa, etc, and reps from those who are not unionised)

2.                   There should be a meeting of delegates from all mines and mining communities to discuss a joint plan of action to stop the mass retrenchments and for the reinstatement of all workers dismissed in the last wave of strikes since August last year- but we need a broader resistance;

3.                   We need a workers summit where delegates from all unions, Cosatu, Nactu, Consawu, independent, delegates from working class communities and grassroots social movements, socialist organizations, all gather around a central demand for the expropriation of Anglo American, without compensation, under workers control; other demands of the working class should be gathered and finalised at this workers summit, such as the demand for the expropriation of the commercial farms, for all the dismissed farm worker leaders to be reinstated, etc;  at the same time, the demand should be raised for a workers’ government based on grassroots committees. [the Cosatu leaders say that they are calling for nationalization- this is a hoax as they want the mines to be nationalised under the very ANC govt that is attacking the working class].

4.                   This means that mine worker delegates should be sent to the heroic comrades at Lonmin to persuade them to retreat for the moment, until a broader joint action can be planned and implemented.

Issued by Workers International Vanguard Party 15th May 2013 email ph 0822020617 website