Socialist Worker

New platinum miners' strike panics government in South Africa

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2388

One of Anglo Americans platinum mines

One of Anglo American's platinum mines (Pic: Liane Greeff)

Tens of thousands of platinum miners began an all-out strike in South Africa on Thursday of last week. 

The workers in the AMCU union are demanding a 12,500 rand (£685) monthly minimum wage.

Miners are out at all three of the country’s biggest producers, Anglo American (Amplats), Impala and Lonmin.

Mine bosses have said the demand is unreasonable. 

Union president Joseph Mathunjwa addressed them from a rally, saying, “Please go home and make some calculation. How much do you spend per month for your dog? And then come back and we’ll talk.”

The union organised the rally at Lonmin in Rustenberg, where police shot down 34 striking miners in the Marikana massacre of 2012.

A panicky South African government organised negotiations to start on Monday of this week as the solid strike caused the value of the rand to plummet.

Peter Alexander, a socialist in Johannesburg, told Socialist Worker, “Platinum is sold in dollars but workers are paid in rand, so companies benefit from every fall in value of the rand against the dollar. 

“On the day of the Marikana massacre one dollar exchanged for 8.2 rand. Now one dollar is worth 11 rand.”

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