COSATU mourns and remember the 44 workers who lost their lives during 2012 violent strikes in Marikana

The Congress of South African Trade Unions mourns and remember the 44 workers who lost their lives during the violent strikes in Marikana in 2012.  The brutal murders of these breadwinners will forever be a mark of shame for our nascent democracy and a painful loss to their families.  If we are to honour their memories, we must ensure as a nation that such a senselessness tragedy never reoccurs.

The Federation remains aggrieved that a decade on, the families of the deceased are still awaiting compensation and that the culprits remain at large.  If we are to build a law based society, then the law must be seen to be applied to all, without fear or favour, and without fail.  We have allowed a culture of impunity to develop and are then surprised when society loses faith in the ability of the state to enforce the rule of law.  If the families are to be allowed to heal, then their long delayed compensation claims must be finalised.

The underlying cause of the Marikana tragedy, was the high levels of exploitation and indebtedness experienced by mine workers. Sadly, it doesn’t look like any lessons have been learnt from that tragedy. Loan sharks are allowed, in spite of the National Credit Act, to continue to exploit and abuse workers.

The mining industry continues to impose an apartheid wage gap where the CEOs of mining companies pay themselves hundreds of millions of rands and yet quibble when mine workers ask for a R150 increase.  We need to see shareholders in these mining companies, exercising far greater influence and ensure that mine and other workers are paid a living wage, and the apartheid wage gap reduced.

The mining industry remains the backbone of South Africa’s economy.  It is the largest earner of foreign exchange and a key part of our imports and continues to have great potential to grow further. 

However, it has seen an unprecedented jobs bloodbath over the last couple of years. This is happening while thousands of mining rights applications are collecting dust in the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.  This problem needs to be resolved urgently in order to unlock investment and create jobs. 

Transnet needs to be assisted to protect freight rail from cable theft and to modernise our ports as these will further boost the sector and create badly needed mining jobs. The power utility, Eskom, needs to be urgently fixed because the mining sector cannot successfully operate without reliable and affordable energy.

We reiterate our call for government to step up its efforts to ensure mining companies rehabilitate old mines.  It is not acceptable that over 6000 mines have been abandoned and neglected. They not only pose a risk to the environment, but they have fallen into the hands of criminal syndicates whose run illegal mining and encourage violence and criminality.

COSATU salutes the tireless efforts of our affiliated union, NUM, for continuing to represent workers and also working to bring peace to an often volatile sector.  These efforts have born fruits with the recent peaceful strike at Sibanye and with workers across unions being united in their demands for a living wage.  This unity should be nurtured and defended if workers and communities are to succeed in getting their fair share of the surplus value in the mini sector. 

Issued by COSATU.

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 010 219 1339
Cell: 060 975 6794