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  • on 24.05.2014
  • at 12:00 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

Don’t believe the media hype about striking mine workers in South Africa 0

The platinum strike led by new trade union Association of Mining and Construction Workers Union (AMCU), is now over four months long, making it the longest strike in the history of South Africa. The majority of the country’s English language newspapers depict the strike as a result of the greedy and unethical leadership of AMCU who have placed the country’s economy in jeopardy through lying to the miners about the viability of their wage demand of R12,500 or US$1,250.

But frankly this is bullshit: the strike is a direct result of the state massacre of workers at Marikana and a mining industry which still maintains the same colonial structure of the industry. This interview was conducted with a worker-leader from Marikana, who was shot during the massacre, such voices are not found in the South African media and as you can see, the workers know perfectly well what they are doing.

Could you give some background to the ongoing strike, and explain the factors that led to the continuing mass action?

The undermining by employers, by not coming to (fulfilling) their offer that the workers in 2012 died for. Impala, Anglo and Lonmin, the bosses of those three companies don’t want to pay what they promised the workers who passed away in 2012. They undermine the deals they committed to, and that’s why we said, ‘no, we want to go to strike now’ – because since 2012 till now, there has been no money.

I think it’s important to point out the demand comes from the workers from 2012 rather than being from AMCU – this is a 2012 demand.


So, we are now three months into the strike. From what I’ve heard, the conditions for the workers are quite bad right now; it’s not about the money and people are getting quite hungry and desperate. Are people still fighting? Are they ready to carry on with this?

If you recall what happened in 2012, [the strike] was organised by the workers without any organisation. Then the strike turned violent, and [some] people were not conducting themselves in a [humane] manner.. So workers have now decided to join this union, AMCU. They think that within AMCU, the government and the company will respond positively because now they are more organised and within their correct structures – which [the companies were asking for]. Workers behaved very well; no one has been killed. But it’s those elements, whereby workers are provoked by the police or Lonmin, [and the workers get] uncontrollable because [the companies] are labelling us, saying that we have done this and that, which we haven’t done.

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