MESSAGE TO THE AMPLATS MINEWORKERS RALLY IN RUSTENBURG DELIVERED BY TREVOR NGWANE, DEMOCRATIC LEFT FRONT, November 10 2012
DLF Salutes the Marikana and all Fighting Mineworkers
Build and strengthen the workers' committees!
Link workplace struggles to community struggles!
Build solidarity among working people nationally and internationally!
The media has generally presented leadership, in the context of the mineworkers' strikes, to the South African public as individuals.
I stand before you not as an individual; not as a ‘messiah' but as member of a fighting socialist collective. A committed member of the Democratic Left Front (DLF); a new anti-capitalist grassroots movement seeking to advance alternatives and transform South Africa from below.
We are a movement and home of workers, the poor, women, gays and lesbians, and youth. We are movement committed to fight oppression and advance a collective perspective for change.
We support your struggle and your demands. We stand with you without apology, without fear and without ambitions except to struggle alongside you to realise your dreams and desires!
Marikana is A Spark For A New South Africa!
The murder of 34 mineworkers on August 16th by the ANC government is and will always be a crime against the working class as a whole. Moreover it is a spark for a new South Africa! It is spark for a South Africa that works for, affirms and advances the interests of the workers and poor. It is a spark for a worker-led democracy! We say to the ANC Ministers, the credit rating agencies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and most importantly the mining bosses, the Marikana moment is here to stay! As long as the rich get richer and workers poorer in South Africa the Marikana moment is here to stay!
We call on All South Africans never to forget the crime against the Marikana workers. August 16th must always be day to affirm ongoing working class struggle for a transformed South Africa. We call on the Farlam Commission to stop police intimidation against mine workers that need to testify! We want the truth about the Marikana Massacre and we want full accountability by those who did the shooting and by those politically responsible. Marikana Never Again!!!
Advancing the Struggle for a Living Wage
Apartheid South Africa haunts us through the low wages earned by workers whiles the bosses take away millions. The lowest minimum wage in 2012 was R996 per month in the South African economy. Half of CEOs of companies earn 762 times more than the lowest minimum wage. Generally in mining the lowest minimum wage is just over R4000. Yet 75 CEOs of the 80 largest listed corporations took home jointly over R1.5 billion in 2011. One individual alone took home R39 million in one year. This has to end now!
At the same time income poverty for farm workers, domestic workers, amongst others, exists in the context of insecure work and for many through the exploitative role of labour brokers. Moreover, most workers, including mine workers, live in awful living conditions without proper housing, transport, water, schools and health care. Currently workers in the Western Cape wine lands have been inspired by the example of mine workers to fight for more. This follows the struggle by transport workers who spoke the language of Marikana in their demands for descent wages.
Your demands for a decent living wage are shared by many across South Africa. Harmony Gold Mine's net profit before the strike rose 388% to R522m. The wage deal will only add R10 million a month to Harmony's wage bill; it is still making super-profits despite the strike. The demands of Amplats workers must be won!
We call for a settlement at Amplats in the interests of the workers. Moreover, we call on all workers, trade unions and South Africans to stand up for an end to income inequality and to demand more for the bottom and less for the top. We say the bosses have priced themselves out of the democracy not the workers. Forward to descent work and a living wage campaign across South Africa Now! Down with Labour Brokers!
We also call for deepening unity between workers and communities. In particular, we support your decision for a national assembly of workers where worker and strike committees can meet and discuss how to take forward the struggle for a living wage. This struggle will not end with wage agreements. We call for such an assembly to also bring representatives of the unemployed. The demands of the striking workers are shared by the unemployed. Such an assembly must also discuss the Unemployed People's Movement demand for a living income for the unemployed. We will work with you and the unemployed to ensure a successful national assembly owned and driven by the workers and the unemployed.
Defending and Reclaiming Democracy From Below
Despite the attacks by the ANC police and mine bosses, the strikes in the mining sector have affirmed the democratic right of workers to strike. Those who condemn you as counter-revolutionaries are the real counter-revolutionaries. They are the lapdogs of capital presenting themselves as revolutionaries.
Many trade union leaders have tried to cripple the strike movement and prevent our victory. Your strike and worker committees have shown another way to reclaim democracy and build worker power. We need strong shop-floor or shaft committees to regain control over the unions, to hold the union leaders accountable for their actions and to replace them when they refuse to represent us. We need trade unions democratically controlled by the workers. As the DLF, we call on you as workers not to disband the strike and worker committees. These committees are your shield and weapon that must remain even after the strikes in order to defend the right to work against the threat of retrenchments and to ensure democratic worker control.
However, the violence by the ANC state against you has also been experienced in communities. The murder of Andries Tatane, the September 2009 attack on Abahlali baseMijondolo by ANC goons, the same goons who attacked DLF marches at the COP17 conference in December 2011, the sustained police and political attacks on the Unemployed People's Movements, police repression against activists and movements in Khayelitsha, farmworker leaders and organisations: all this police repression has to stop! Violence by the state and the bosses is killing democracy. The Traditional Courts Bill, the ‘Secrecy Bill' and the failure to disclose how much money is spent on the Nkandla construction all amount to the theft of democracy by elites. Democracy belongs to the people.
We are calling for mass worker action and a conference in Defence of Democracy and to Deepen Democracy Against Capitalism! We call on all workers, trade unions, progressive social movements and democrats in South Africa to support this mass action and conference which we must hold next year. Let us unite workplace and community struggles!
Beyond Violence - For Working Class Unity and a Transformed Mining Industry
South Africa's mining industry is built on violence: colonial violence, racist violence and essentially capitalist violence. The super-exploitation of mine workers and the destruction of the environment over 120 years by mining capital have to come to an end. The mining bosses have stolen the wealth created by South Africa's workers and they have poisoned our drinking water, our soil, our communities with mine dumps, they now want fracking in the Karoo and they are stealing the land of local communities to secure minerals. The mining bosses owe a debt to all of us for the violent destruction of our beautiful country. Enough is enough!
Through your strike action you have been brave. Mineworkers create 18% of the country's wealth and 50% of its foreign earnings. Without this foreign currency the South African economy cannot grow. This is why they have used violence and intimidation to try to crush the strikes.
Amplats strikers have not been defeated by the police harassment and brutality seen throughout the strike, or the way police massacred workers at Marikana. Instead, the Amplats strike has brought the economy to its knees.
The struggle is not over. The struggle for decent wages, decent housing, decent health, decent education - a decent life, is only just beginning. The bosses will try to take their revenge through declaring retrenchments. We have to prepare to fight this.
To win our struggles we need a strong and united working class, led by the organised workers, mobilising all the poor and unemployed, women and men, old and young, in the country and the towns.
We condemn every instance of worker violence against fellow-workers as this weakens our struggle and leads to more killings and revenge. Violence amongst workers strengthens the bosses. Violence between unions gives more power to the bosses. Peace now amongst workers! War on the bosses profit-making system!
We call for a grassroots peace process involving all unions, the strike and worker committees, affected communities and the state. We call on the strike and worker committees to lead this process.
We call for the strike and worker committees to consider continuing inside the mines to ensure there are no retrenchments and to develop a grass roots vision and plan for a transformed mining sector.
We call for reinstatement of all workers retrenched during the strike: such as 12 000 workers at AngloGold, 8500 workers at Gold Fields, 400 workers at Xstrata and 2000 workers at Bokoni Platinum.
Forward to a living wage!
Build workers' unity!
Reclaim Democracy from Below!
Issued by the Democratic Left Front, November 11 2012
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