Message of support to the Amplats workers
Workers International Vanguard Party (WIVP) salutes the heroic mineworkers for taking on the mighty Anglo American bosses, the real rulers of the region, in last year. Unfortunately, the Cosatu leaders played a major role in isolating the workers revolt last year by spreading rumours that it was led by thugs who were killing off NUM shopstewards. The Cosatu leaders prevented the rest of the working class from joining ranks with the mineworkers in what was really a fight against the capitalist system.
The defence of the mineworkers lies in breaking from a unionist approach and by launching a political fight which unites other sectors of the working class in the struggle against the ANC regime which is the manager for Anglo American. One of the central issues to go forward right now, is to take up the fight against the electricity increases, as the main beneficiary is Anglo American and the US banks that own it.
Why is Anglo American targeting the Amplats workers?
The Harmony and Amplats bosses are making huge profits- with the Rand devaluing, they are making even more. So their attack on the workers is political:
The imperialist-capitalist class is concerned that independent, militant workers, not under anyone’s control poses a threat to the whole capitalist system.
1.The world economy is in decline and
the prospects for an expansion of the market for Platinum is limited- car sales
are down internationally and there is a move away from producing catalytic
2. thus one of the few ways of increasing profit levels is reducing the wage bill (retrenchments) or reducing wages or increasing the price of Platinum;
3. this makes us believe that the plan to retrench 14000 workers was calculated to provoke a strike- this had an immediate effect of raising the Platinum price by 2%- the longer any strike goes on the more the price would rise; at the same time the bosses are hoping the workers go on strike on their own so that this time they hope to carry out mass dismissals and escape paying packages, but more importantly the company will smash the militant core at Amplats that threatens constantly the slave relations not only in the mining sector but in the country- we should not forget that Anglo American has its hands dripping in blood from Afghanistan and many other places- they have assessed that any further sparks from the mine workers would set the whole region alight- thus, contrary to what NUM leaders and the ANC govt say, they would all stand to benefit from having these militant workers smashed and replaced over time with more compliant and docile ones. One only has to look to the farm workers revolt, the militant truck drivers strike and the revolt in Sasolburg to glimpse the type of uprising across the board that the imperialists are trying to pre-empt by wanting to cut off the head of the resistance; The threats hanging over the heads of the Harmony and Amplats workers is to intimidate the entire working class from rising up;
4. the bosses have calculated that due to tiredness, pressure of schools re-opening, debt, that it would be very difficult for other mines to come out in solidarity strikes, hence their provocation now- hoping that workers come out on strike on their own so that this time they will really be in a position to smash the strikers;
5. Another key factor is that the independent workers committees have either collapsed or are very weak or have been taken over by Amcu which is unionist and economist that they do not see the broader picture of class struggle- indeed in places the Amcu has become the new 'NUM'.
6. Thus it is important to use the 60 day period to regain strength, mobilise on the ground and prepare the ground for an offensive at the date and time of the choosing of the workers, not the bosses, under the rallying call that if any worker is retrenched anywhere, the workers would take over the mine, the attack is part of a general one because if they succeed at Anglo, then mine by mine, others would follow.
The Way Forward
We propose that immediately there are anti-Eskom/Anglo American committees set up at all workplaces and in all working class communities. (see our leaflet on Eskom) . These committees should unite workers irrespective of union affiliation and irrespective if they are permanent or casual, local or immigrant, and in the case of communities, irrespective also of being employed or unemployed.
Such committees could begin by organising lunchtime pickets, marches to council offices, marches to provincial government and marches to central govt offices (including the Union buildings and parliament), marches to Anglo American offices. By taking up issues which face the broader working class, is a way to break the isolation of the mineworkers. . The Cosatu leaders are already preparing a betrayal by saying that an increase of 8- 12% is acceptable. The working class needs to be made aware of this.
We need to link the collusion of the construction companies over decades to this fight- the same banks that own them also own Anglo American. The Medupi project should be stopped. The entire multi-trillion Rand infrastructure programme which is centred on contracts for these corrupt construction companies should be stopped- these companies should be forced to pay back the money they stole through high tenders over the past few decades, failing which they should be expropriated without compensation and placed under workers control. All new electricity projects should be renewable energy and coal and nuclear should be phased out. Anglo American and other imperialist companies that benefit from coal power should be forced to pay compensation to the masses of Mozambique and all areas in the region who are victims of flooding due to climate change from pollution from coal power.
It is by joining hands with the rest of the working class that they will realise that the attack on the Amplats and Harmony workers is the same attack as what the capitalists launch every day on higher electricity prices, higher food prices, high housing and transport prices, etc.
A working class united will never be defeated!
Forward to an independent revolutionary working class party that is international!
Forward to Socialism!