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Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU)

Smoke and Mirrors: Lonmin’s failure to address housing conditions at Marikana, South Africa

By staff - Amnesty International, August 16, 2016

Since 2012 Amnesty International has commented and campaigned on the serious policing failures that led to the deaths at Marikana, calling for full accountability and reparations for the victims and their families. That work continues.

This report examines abuses of the right to adequate housing of mine workers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine operation. Its primary focus is an examination of Lonmin’s response to the findings of the Farlam Commission.

In this regard it looks both at what Lonmin has done and what the company has said about the situation.

Read the text (PDF).

On strike since Marikana Massacre, Hungry Workers Cut Production of World’s Platinum by Nearly Half

By Skyler Reid - San Francisco Bay View, May 27, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Marikana, South Africa – Nomfanelo Jali stirs porridge she hopes will quell her children’s chronic hunger. Food has been scarce since her husband joined 80,000 workers on strike with South Africa’s main mineworkers’ union, AMCU.

“It’s very difficult,” Jali said. “None of us has got food.”

The strike, now four months long, is the longest – and costliest – in the nation’s history. Platinum production in the country accounts for 40 percent of the global market, and the work stoppage has pushed up the price of the metal worldwide.

But workers say they’re determined to hold out until they get the raise they’re asking for – more than double what they currently earn.

Skyler Reid is a Freelance photographer and journalist based in the Johannesburg area of South Africa. His goal is to find new ways to make people interested in news stories, by introducing characters and narratives that can capture the interest of those who are turned off by the basic news formula. He can be reached via Twitter @skyreid. This story and video first appeared on GlobalPost.

Mining Strike: Whose Reality is ‘The Real World’?

By Dick Forslund and Jeff Rubin - Daily Maverick, April 25, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Everyone, other than lunatics, troublemakers and the economically illiterate, is supposed to know that the demand by the striking platinum workers for a starting basic wage of R12,500 is plainly unaffordable. Indeed, anything even near R12,500 is supposedly so outrageous as to guarantee the bankruptcy of the mining companies and the closure of the mines. The fact that the mining companies are now only nudging towards this claim, after more than 12 weeks of all out strike, and despite the major concession by AMCU, the trade union involved, of a four-year phasing in of the claim, ought to be sufficient proof of the magnitude of the workers’ unreality. A closer look at the actual numbers, however, suggests something very different.

The absurdity does not go away; instead we are forced to ask: Whose reality determines ‘the real world’?

An “unskilled” worker at Angloplats, for instance, has a basic monthly wage of R5,400. To reach R12,500 in the fourth year means an annual increase of R1,775 for each of the four years. This would appear to be a whopping 32.9% increase for the first year, falling gradually to a still large 16.6% in the fourth year. However, excluding other allowances and pension costs that, as a further concession, AMCU agreed to peg at the rate of inflation and assuming official inflation of 6% for four successive years, means that the total nominal wage increase falls to 21.6%, in the first year, and 12.1% in the fourth year.

For skilled and professional workers, the situation is far easier, for their basic salary is already close to R12,500. Indeed, the highest grades have it already. We don’t know the precise number of employees in each pay grade because the employers seek to hide this information. However, we can confidently say that the total wage bill for all AMCU’s members would be far less than a 20% increase in the first year and close to or below 10% in year four. Keeping inflation below 6% would reduce these numbers even further.

But the cost of meeting these increases – whatever they might be – is not small. This is not something to conceal but rather to affirm: We are indeed speaking of a wage revolution but with a difference: the cost would come from profits, rather than at the expense of the production of wealth.

AMCU Statement on the Breakdown of Possible Wage Settlement in the Platinum Industry

Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union press release, April 25, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

It is with dismay that our latest proposal at reaching a settlement was arrogantly rebuffed by the platinum cartel of Angloplats, Impala and Lonmin.

We made several different proposals based on increases to the basic pay of the lowest paid workers. These proposals looked at ways of addressing the affordability concerns of the employers within the mandate of our members. In spite of all our efforts we were faced with complete intransigence and games of smoke and mirrors.

The employers refused to provide information on the cost of these different proposals. When Angloplats eventually presented us with their calculation today after 13 weeks of the strike, it was found to be exaggerated by between R300 and R500 million. Their unaffordability argument collapsed when they were forced to acknowledge their false claim. Even the government officials observing the negotiations were left bewildered by their methods.

AMCU will address mass meetings of its members exposing the behaviour of the employers. We were extremely livid at these underhand methods. It is difficult to predict how our members will react and what mandate they will give us faced with this
situation.

The lack of seriousness with which the Cartel is approaching the negotiations was evidenced by the failure of most CEOs and CFOs to attend. We are left with the strong impression that there is a hidden agenda at play. This too will be discussed with our members and we will work out a joint strategy to break their intransigence and arrogance. This will include solidarity actions and efforts with our brothers and sisters all over the world where these companies operate and market their metals. The employers must know that we will not be diverted from our just struggle for a decent life for our members and for all mineworkers in our country. Nevertheless, we as a responsible union remain optimistic that we will find a solution to this impasse.

The Fine Print I:

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The Fine Print II:

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