For a general strike to end the Marikana massacre
For a general strike to end the Marikana massacre
DSM (CWI South Africa) 17 August 2012
At least twelve workers were shot dead, and many more injured, on August 16 as a massive police and army assault was launched to crush a strike by thousands of workers at platinum miner Lonmin’s shafts in Marikana outside Rustenburg, in addition to at least six mine workers who were killed in clashes earlier on in the strike which began August 10. Two policemen and two mine security guards were also killed in the near-civil-war-like conditions. It is clear that the Lonmin bosses, backed by the entire big business elite and its servants in the government, the police and army are hellbent on restoring order at any cost. The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM - CWI in South Africa) appeals for socialists and trade unionists internationally to protest against the massacre that is now being set in motion.
The background is that thousands of workers at Lonmin, the wolrd’s third largest platinum producer, went on strike in demand of an increase from their current R4000 poverty wages to a R12500 living wage on August 10. The strike was initiated by workers belonging to AMCU, a break-away union from the dominant National Union of Mine workers (NUM). It appears the strike, which grew in numbers to involve tens of thousands of workers, was attacked not only by the infamously brutal mine security but also by the NUM, which attempted to force workers to break the strike. This provoked mistaken retaliations such as the torching of a car which led to the death of the two security guards on Saturday and the killing of two police officers on Monday. This has given the government an excuse to restore “law and order”, and Lonmin’s rapidly falling share price, through what is nothing less than an orchestrated massacre.
The area is under siege, with the battle clearly being prepared for in the last couple of days. Lonmin withdrew from negotiations which had been agreed for August 15 stating that the matter would now be “in the hands of the police”. No longer able to rely on containing the workers through the NUM leaders, the bosses have now resorted to brute force. By drowning this uprising in blood, the bosses may win a battle but not the war which has been brewing on Rustenburg’s platinum mines for years now. As a result of the global economic crisis, the platinum price has fallen drastically and the bosses are desperate to make the workers pay. That is why they are resolved, with the backing of the entire ruling class, not to give an inch to the bold strike launched by the Lonmin workers.
The Rustenburg region is the world’s largest platinum ore deposit and the recent closure of shafts by some mines have alerted its tens of thousands of workers to the urgent need to fight back. In doing so, increasing numbers are turning their backs on the NUM – once one of the proudest, most militant trade unions in SA but now, through backdoor deals with the bosses, investment companies and an alliance with the capitalist African National Congress-government, it is so discredited that its leaders only dare to address workers protected by guns, life guards and police armoured vehicles. Seeking a way forward, many workers have gone into AMCU, and with the NUM, backed by management, defending its turf, a tense stalemate has been established this year.
The DSM is calling on workers in both unions to demand united solidarity action, beginning with a local general strike, involving all the platinum shafts and the bitterly poor local working class communities. We also call for a national general strike to end the shooting of striking workers, and for a campaign of rolling mass action for the nationalisation of the mines under workers control and management.
We appeal to comrades internationally to send protests to the Lonmin head office in London:
4 Grosvenor Place
Tel: +44 (0)20 7201 6000
Fax: +44 (0)20 7201 6100
Please send copies to the DSM, email@example.com
MODEL PROTEST LETTER:
Attention: CEO Ian Farmer and Chairman Roger Phillimore,
I/ we …………………….. call on Lonmin to intervene to stop the massacre of its striking workers at Marikana, South Africa immediately. A yet unknown number of striking workers were shot dead on August 16 by police in an orchestrated confrontation which was the direct result of Lonmin’s withdrawal from negotiations with the workers who are striking for a living wage.
We demand that Lonmin steps in to call on the police, army and mine security to withdraw and initiates new negotiations with the representatives chosen by the workers on strike.
We demand that Lonmin withdraws its threat to dismiss all striking workers with immediate effect.
We demand the full satisfaction of the striking workers’ just demands
Only such steps could possibly take away from the fact that Lonmin is currently part of orchestrating a mass murder on largely defenceless workers in defence of its share price.
FOR A GENERAL STRIKE TO END THE MARIKANA MASSACRE
DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST MOVEMENT STATEMENT AUGUST
Liv Shange Friday, 17 August 2012
UNITED WORKERS SOLIDARITY ACTION MUST BE CALLED TO END THE MASSACRE IN MARIKANA
FOR A GENERAL STRIKE – FOR NATIONALISATION UNDER WORKERS’ CONTROL
The Democratic Socialist Movement condemns the massacre on the striking Lonmin workers. The massive assault by thousands of police using live ammunition against mostly unarmed workers was not an accident. This is the capitalist ruling class’ premeditated effort to restore their order – the dictatorship of the bosses – by crushing the mine workers’ uprising in blood. United on one side in this class war are the police, army, government, the Lonmin bosses and the whole capitalist elite, and, we unfortunately have to add, the NUM bosses. For them the death toll – to which another twelve have been added only in the last few hours at the time of writing – is just a slightly irritating threat to the value of their shares and the size of their profits. They get filthy rich through the working class’ sweat, tears and hunger – and blood, when required. It is time for the working class to stand up and fight back – for a general strike of all North West mines and working class communities.
The police may drown the Lonmin strike in blood for the time being but this will not end the war that has broken into the open in Rustenburg. The roots of the conflict are the capitalist system’s global economic crisis and the crisis of working class leadership. The platinum price has fallen sharply as a result of the economic crisis and the mine bosses are going on the attack to make workers pay. By shutting down production they hope they can drive up the platinum price and their multi-billion profits. The NUM and Cosatu leaders do not have any defence to put up against the attacks by the capitalists, because they see no alternative to the logic of the capitalist system which they are increasingly part of managing as part of the ruling ANC’s Alliance. Cosatu’s policy of class collaboration, from officials down to shop steward level being in the pockets of management to the Nedlac talkshop, is the suicidal result.
By betraying every key principle of the workers’ struggle the NUM leaders turned into the mine bosses reliable agents. Over the past few years, workers at Murray and Roberts, Lonmin, Impala, Samancor, Anglo, have again and again been forced to strike in rebellion against the NUM leaders because they have struck deals with management behind the workers’ backs. This forced the NUM officials into the habit of addressing workers gun-in-holster or shielded by police armoured vehicles. They NUM leaders have killed the union by allowing themselves to be used as the bosses line managers, getting bought houses and cars and investing the workers money in joint ventures with the bosses.
Failing to provide a way forward for the workers based on class unity, the NUM has also allowed the survival of dangerous tribalist tendencies based on the mine bosses’ maintaining a migrant labour system aimed at dividing workers amongst themselves, and workers from local communities.
Today when Lonmin workers stand up for a R12500 living wage, the NUM calls for the police and the army, while the NUM GS Baleni just got a R40 000 monthly salary increase. By going in to actively break the Lonmin strike, allowing its members to be used as cannon fodder by the bosses to divide the struggle, and calling on the bosses, the police and army to step in to suppress the strike, the NUM leadership crossed the class line.
The Association of Mine workers and Construction Union (AMCU) has stepped into the vacuum left by the NUM leaders’ betrayal but it has yet to prove it can unite workers behind a real alternative.
The DSM believes that for AMCU to be able to provide a way forward it would have to base itself on a programme that recognises that what is flaring up in Rustenburg is a more intense phase of the class war in which the platinum bosses, along with their likes all over the world, are trying to offload the burden of the escalating global economic crisis onto the backs of the workers. In that situation trade unions must either take the side of the bosses, as the NUM has in effect done, or take up the battle and turn it against the bosses, fighting against closures, retrenchment and short-time until the end while launching a mass campaign for the nationalisation of the mines under worker control and management.
A union worth the name should also call for the all workers, whether they belong to AMCU, NUM or another union, to unite behind the demand for a living wage for all. The crisis can only be resolved by workers uniting across union and tribal lines.
We have no doubt it was the police and mine security that first attacked the striking workers, as so many times before in Rustenburg and elsewhere in the country. Last, three workers at M&Rs’ K5 shaft in Marikana were shot dead by police and mine security as their protest march was attacked on August 1. Another two of about 20 injured workers have since died of their shot wounds. We stand for workers’ right to defend themselves, in a disciplined way. It was a mistake for Lonmin workers to respond by killing first two security guards, on Saturday, and then two police officers on Monday. This did not move the workers’ struggle forward but divided it. It gave the police, the mine bosses and the state cover behind which they could crush the strike.
The DSM is urging workers inside AMCU and the NUM to demand of their unions:
To organise immediate solidarity strike action on all the North West mining operations uniting behind the Lonmin workers’ demand for a living wage and for the withdrawal of the police and army
To appeal to all the surrounding working class communities to join in mass action in solidarity with the demand for a living wage and for the platinum wealth to be used for the needs of society, not for profit
To call and prepare for a general strike in protest against the massacre and for a living wage
To set up a joint trade union and strike committee-led investigation into the Marikana massacre
To organise disciplined and accountable self-defence committees and put an end to the killing of fellow workers
To start a campaign of rolling mass action for the nationalisation of the mines under workers democratic control and management
FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL MAMETLWE SEBEI 0726576750 OR LIV SHANGE 0741059622