Striking platinum workers’ demand ‘small’ compared to industry profits, says WASP
Johannesburg-S.A. (June 11) Striking platinum mine workers’ demand for a R12,500 basic wage is small compared to mining industry profits and board directors’ earnings, said the Workers and Socialist Party (Wasp).
The workers were "demanding what belongs to them", WASP president Moses Mayekiso said on Wednesday.
So far, according to a website set up by platinum producers, the strike — which has entered its fifth month — has cost workers close to R10bn and mining companies up to R22bn.
Mr Mayekiso said the government should support the strike because it is elected by the workers and not by the mine bosses.
He said WASP was disappointed at the government pulling out of deadlocked negotiations on Monday.
"The workers need government’s backing because they are vulnerable to management and other forces that want to destroy the strike," he said.
A state task team headed by Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi halted its intervention efforts on Monday.
Mr Ramatlhodi said enough work was done during two weeks of talks "for the parties to take the process forward and continue engaging on their own".
According to Mr Mayekiso, it was alarming that, rather than supporting workers, the African National Congress (ANC) had only spoken about stepping up security in the Rustenburg platinum belt.
"Talk of the security cluster’s involvement smacks of a repeat of Marikana," said Mr Mayekiso, referring to the labour unrest in 2012, when the police shot dead 34 mainly striking workers.
"We are worried about possible brutality towards workers," he said.
In another development, Trade union Solidarity said on Wednesday it intends to file papers at the Constitutional Court later this month, seeking to compel the police and the army to protect non-striking employees while at work and at home.
Papers were being prepared and could be filed next week, said Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis.
Mr du Plessis said the union believed its members, who were not on strike, were being "severely prejudiced" due to the strike. This included both current lost pay in overtime and production bonuses, and a possible lack of sustainability in the producer’s operations.
WASP deputy general secretary Liv Shange said the ANC’s approach would increase mine workers’ hostility to the government. She said the ANC was clearing "the road for mining bosses to continue with their efforts to crush the strike".