NUMSA statement in solidarity with NUM - SATAWU - COSATU

11 October 2012

In the face of the intransigent stance taken by the bosses in the transport industry and by the mining oligarchy, NUMSA calls on all its members to start debating solidarity action in support of workers in the mining industry and the transport sector. If these legitimate and genuine demands of SATAWU in the transport sector, and NUM and COSATU in the mining sector are not met, we might be left with no option but to embark on solidarity strike action. This is a view we will be taking to the COSATU CEC scheduled for next week Monday.

We have witnessed the recent strikes that have been characterised by various forms of violence. We have suffered from the loss of precious lives. We have been tormented and angered by the complete absence of any sense of urgency on the part of the bosses. We have been unable to avoid the conclusion that their lack of concern is due to the fact that it is not their families who are directly affected by the ‘no work no pay’ principle that accompanies strikes. It is black and African labour that is exploited; it is black and African lives that are lost in their ruthless push to maximise profits.

We have a simple message for the Transport bosses who refuse to bargain in good faith, the Mining oligarchy who think they can get away with mass dismissals and our own democratic government.

Remember our history!

The mission of the 1910 Union, reinforced by the 1913 Land Act, was to ensure that black people in general , and Africans in particular, would never own and control the South African economy. English and Afrikaner capital would continue to benefit from the profits that are a product of the direct exploitation of black and African labour.

The ANC itself, though others may have forgotten this, was formed in 1912 as a direct response to the Union between English and Afrikaner capital. Capitalism in South Africa has always thrived and accumulated huge profits on the back of exploiting black and African labour. This has been the case from 1910 right up to the blood massacre of mine workers by the South African police service of our own democratic government.

Look closely at our present!

We have consistently warned that our failure to deal with the structure of the South African economy, in particular its ownership and control has been directly responsible for the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality. We have repeatedly demanded that radical measures be taken to reverse the seriously deepening levels of de-industrialization and to champion manufacturing and industrialization.

We have dismissed the youth wage subsidy and called for the banning of labour brokers because it is only a massive expansion of manufacturing industry that will create the number of jobs required to address the triple crisis.

The Truth of the Platinum Mining Industry

We allowed the biggest platinum producers (Lonmin, Anglo Platinum and Implats) to make R160 billion in operating profit between 2006 and 2011 without investing that profit in manufacturing industry that could process the minerals which generated the profit. So we still export platinum and import catalytic converters for our auto manufacturing industry.

We have also consistently warned that the current apartheid wage gap between the workers who produce the wealth and the bosses, who scavenge profits out of the sweat and toil of these workers, is unacceptable, unsustainable and dangerous in the extreme.

Our message to Transport bosses!

NUMSA calls on all the bosses in the Auto industry, namely Tyre, Engineering, Motor sectors and all other sectors of the economy served by the transport industry, to send a very clear message to the transport bosses that they must quickly stop their greed and make an offer that will settle the transport strike as championed by SATAWU.

Our message to the Mining oligarchy!

NUMSA has noted the reactionary stance taken by the mining oligarchy to embark on mass dismissals of all workers who decided to withdraw their labour, calling for better working conditions and struggling for a living wage. We have seen companies like Anglo American Platinum, which dismissed 12 000 workers, Gold One which dismissed 1435 workers at Ezulwini mine after dismissing a similar number of workers at Modder East mine, Atlantas who fired 2161 workers at its Bokoni mine in Limpompo. COSATU and NUM, with the full support of all COSATU affiliated unions, calls upon the bosses to open negotiations and look for a solution that can settle the current wave of strikes, but the mining bosses arrogantly resolved to engage in mass dismissals of workers to demonstrate their contempt for a living wage.

NUMSA calls on the mining oligarchy to accept that their stance is understood for what it is: they are union bashers; their actions are meant to undermine COSATU and NUM, and above all to blackmail poor workers and force them into silence, refusing them the right to express their rejection of inferior wages. It is within this context that NUMSA takes a very firm view that the bosses must be compelled to withdraw their mass dismissal of workers. They must not be allowed to replace these workers with contract labour.

If they continue along their current path, government must simply withdraw their mining licenses. This is part of the reason why NUMSA has consistently called for nationalisation of mines and other monopoly industries in line with the aspirations of our people as encapsulated in the Freedom Charter.

These companies have presided over an industry, 18 years into our democracy, which has dismally failed to provide decent shelter or accommodation for mineworkers, with a significant proportion of its employees living in shacks. Companies like these are not fit to have access to South Africa’s rich mineral endowments. Their current failure and refusal to find a negotiated settlement is yet another example of an abuse of the license given to them to mine. It is an insult to a government that supports fair working conditions for South African workers; it is an insult to the South African people as a whole.

Our message to the agencies of global capitalism!

NUMSA absolutely rejects the dictatorship of the so-called global ratings agencies. These are the very agencies who gave the highest ratings to the financial instruments which crashed in 2008, causing the global crisis. It is pressure from global capital, represented by these agencies, that is directly responsible for the dumping of the Freedom Charter and the Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP). It is pressure from these agencies that made the South African government to dump or abandon our peoples programs and adopted Gear, the very same Gear which has failed to meet all its targets of growth, employment and redistribution.

The strategies driven by global capital and its agencies are directly responsible for the massive triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality that has failed young people of our country.

Our message to the media!

NUMSA has noted that the media has been very robust in reporting the millions that have been lost in profits by the bosses and the tax that the government is losing. Perhaps the media should spend the same amount of attention on how those profits are distributed. The apartheid wage gap in the mining industry is alive and well. It needs to be exposed.

Our message to our comrades and fellow workers in the mining and transport industries!

NUMSA calls on our fellow workers, both in the mining industry and in the transport industry, to remain united behind the leadership of COSATU and its Affiliates, particularly SATAWU and NUM, and not to allow any form of divisions or acts of violence by agents provocateurs who could infiltrate their strike action to undermine their actions. Workers, in the light of this attack by the bosses, need to remain behind the COSATU leadership so that they don`t become victims of unscrupulous bosses.

Issued by:
IRVIN JIM, NUMSA General Secretary
Enquiries or interview requests call: Irvin Jim, General Secretary – 073 157 6384