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Strike begins in South Africa's goldmines

category international | worker & community struggles and protests | news report author Tuesday September 03, 2013 20:25author by Jolly Red Giant - Socialist Party / CWI Report this post to the editors

Upwards of 80,000 miners working in the goldmines in South Africa have begun strike action in a pay dispute with the mining bosses. A further 40,000 goldminers could join the strike in the coming days. Workers are demanding pay increases of between 60%-150% for workers earning around €400 per month. The mining bosses have offered increases of approximate 6.1% (just below the rate of inflation)

Talks in the Platinum and Coal mining sectors are also on the verge of collapse leading to the potential that another 300,000 mine workers will embark on strike action. Anglo Amarican Platinum announcement that they have begun sacking 3,300 platinum miners in Rustenburg is likely to be met with strike action by the workers committees in the AmPlats mines.

On top of the mine workers a further 335,000 workers are currently on strike in South Africa in construction, car manufacturing, car and petrol distribution sectors, among municipal workers in Sun City and post office workers in Gauteng. Strikes are looming among tens of thousands of farm workers against farmers who have failed to implement agreed pay increases after a month long strike last October and 50,000 textile workers in Kwa-Zulu Natal who have voted overwhelmingly for strike action over demands for pay increases.

The Workers and Socialist Party have issued a statement giving its full support to the striking workers -

"The Workers & Socialist Party gives its full backing to the gold mineworkers who begin their strike action at midnight tonight. WASP calls on the NUM organised workers taking strike action to appeal to their brothers and sisters in Amcu to join them to bring about a complete shutdown of the gold mining sector until their wage demands are met. WASP calls on the rank and file of both NUM and Amcu to pressure their leaders to give notice of a unified strike.

There is a war being waged by the mine bosses against their own workforces. It has been reported that the mine bosses have been preparing themselves to weather a long strike by beefing up security and hoarding billions of rands. They are prepared to try and starve the workers back to work and impose their paltry pay offer of just 6.5%. They want to maintain the cruel irony of having those workers who dig out gold – the symbol of wealth and value – live in abject poverty. There is only one answer to this: workers unity. We call on mineworkers in all sectors to organise strike action in support of the gold workers’ wage demands and against the retrenchments planned across the industry.

It is crucial that in the course of this strike the mineworkers themselves have democratic control over every aspect of the action. It is for the workers to democratically decide on the tactics used, elect those they trust to negotiate on their behalf, and decide on what terms they are prepared to return to work. The best way to do this is to elect independent strike committees, a tactic successfully employed in last year’s sector-wide strike action. It is for the unions – NUM and Amcu – to carry out the democratic mandate of the workers.

WASP stands for the nationalisation of the mines under democratic workers control and management.

WASP is preparing itself for its first electoral challenge in the 2014 national and provincial elections. The cause of the mineworkers will be at the centre of the WASP campaign, and mineworkers themselves will be candidates on the lists".

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