Saturday, September 29, 2012



30 September 2012



For a living wage and a living income!

For a two-day national general strike!

For a national conference of workers and the unemployed!

As of 28 September there is a rising strike wave – mainly of unprotected strikes -- around our country, as workers seek to achieve the same victory of the Lonmin/Marikana workers on the wage front.

30,000 mineworkers at Anglo-American Platinum are on strike demanding a total package of R16, 070 a month. 15,000 workers at Goldfields KDC East and West mines in Carletonville are demanding R12, 500 a month. Most of the 9000 workers at Goldfield’s Beatrix goldmine in the Free State have also downed tools, and other mineworkers in the Free State have joined them. Anglo Gold Ashanti’s 35,000 workers, at Kopaneng mine, West Wits and through the Vaal River region are also on strike. At Village Main Reef’s Blyvoor mine 1,700 workers have struck. Workers at Coal of Africa’s Mooiplaas Colliery in Mpumalanga are on a protected strike, and have rejected the bosses offer of a 22% increase.There is news of a strike at SAMANCOR chrome mine near Rustenburg. These are the reported strikes. Probably there are others unreported.

Given the above, COSATU’s call for a commission to investigate the atrocious living and working conditions in the mining industry is correct. We in the DLF support this call.

Some 40,000 truck drivers and other road freight sector workers from SATAWU and other unions are also on a protected strike, and also demanding R12, 500 a month. They have rejected the 9% offered by the bosses.

Workers are fighting not for ‘inflation-linked increases’ but for a real living wage. More and more of value produced by workers goes to the bosses as profit. Government figures themselves reveal that workers have lost R480 billion from 2000 to 2010, which has gone into the pockets of the bosses.

Mineworkers are sick and tired of continuing to risk their health and their lives every day underground while they live like animals in poverty conditions – with low pay, bad food, in single-sex hostels or in shacks – and the bosses fatten themselves on salaries and bonuses worth millions of rands.

Rock driller Mbuzi Mokwane says: “My pay day is the most miserable day for me. At least during the week I'm working. But on the day you're given a pay slip that says 4,000 rand, you start calculating your outgoings and you can go crazy. There is daylight robbery in the mines.” He says “My opinion is that all miners in the whole country should go on strike”. Anglo Platinum machine operator Siphamandla Malchanya, said “We are prepared to die for this situation.”  Mineworkers are showing in action that they agree with these sentiments.

Scandalously, some leaders in the union movement deplored the ‘bad example’ of the ‘high’ wage settlement at Lonmin/Marikana because it would spur other sections of workers into action. Now that these other sections of workers have moved and it is the responsibility of COSATU and NACTU to support this struggle. COSATU’s 11th Congress called for a living wage campaign. The campaign is now off the ground, with mineworkers in the lead! COSATU and NACTU must help to take it forward!!

The NUM needs to call all mineworkers to join in the struggle for a R12, 500 minimum wage. Instead of attacking the AMCU it should join hands with this union in calling the mineworkers to united action against the bosses. COSATU and NACTU, jointly with workers’ strike committees, need to name days for a 2-day general strike to put pressure on the bosses and the government – for a national minimum living wage for workers and a national minimum living income for the unemployed. COSATU and NACTU and the strike committees must call a conference of workers and the unemployed to determine figures for this.

We cannot forget that there are up to 6 million unemployed in our country, the highest rate of unemployment in the world. The government needs to provide every unemployed person, young and old, female and male, with a minimum living income that we suggest should be R4000 a month.

The bosses will bleat that this cannot be afforded. But tax on companies and the rich is much lower under the ANC government than it was under apartheid rule! Our country is awash with money. Trillions of Rands sit idle in state and private pension funds. Billions of Rands sit idle in bank accounts. Billions are wasted on unproductive projects like the world cup soccer stadiums and coal- and nuclear-based energy plants. Tax the rich so that the poor can live!

The mineworkers need to organise a series of local assemblies leading to a national assembly. This national assembly might want to declare a march on Pretoria to press their demands on the state, just as the mineworkers in Spain did in July when they marched the 375 km from Asturias to Madrid to protest the austerity measures of their government.

The political report at the COSATU Congress spoke of the growing gap between union leadership and the rank and file. Now is the time for building a rank and file movement in the unions to bring them back under workers’ control.

Vavi's call at the COSATU Congress for a Lula moment means that workers need to discuss what happened in Brazil which included the formation of a workers' party. Workers must debate what this means for South Africa.

Forward with COSATU’s living wage campaign!

For a national minimum living wage and a minimum living income!

COSATU and NACTU must call a 2-day general strike!

For information on the DLF, contact:

Ayanda Kota - 078 625 6462

Brian Ashley – 082 085 7088

Vishwas Satgar - 082 775 3420

Martin Legassick - 083 417 6837

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