Righteous outrage, no chance in hell
Zwelinzima Vavi s call to Impala striking workers to return to work was like peeling back the layers of an onion, writes MADALA THEPA
ON the public perception index, the strike action at Impala Platinum is legitimate and can be won. It s a genuine radical story of
’ sweatshop workers springing from the sadistic trap of slavery.
It was about time the clock started ticking on the mine s
’ alleged notoriety and that its management gained a slight grip on reality.
The workers say there has been far too little joviality at the mine. Some workers take home R2 400 a pittance in the mod
– ern world. Women aren t allowed to work
’ once the management finds out they are pregnant.
One miner, Nicodemus Kopeledi, was discharged from work because he got sick during the strike action.
Apparently the employer doesn t want sick notes anymore.
’ He wants his workers on their knees all the time, cleaning out the moat, so to speak, and running on the plantation all day long.
Reflecting on life after Wall Street s financial crisis, which saw
’ 40 000 transaction-orientated bankers and traders losing their jobs, author and journalist William D Cohan explained to the readers of his English title what
the Masters (bankers) of the Uni“verse did next ”.
Some walked away silently, huddled up in their basements, fearing the worst if they challenged their employers. Others sought mediation in court.
In the narrative, Cohan was suggesting that the laid off banker s punch-back efforts were
’ the construct of cowards.
In Freedom Park in Rustenburg at Impala Platinum, things are slightly different. 17 200 Masters of the Underground “” who were laid off due to the strike action were incensed.
The arrogance of the employer tapped into the low-iq anger base of the workers.
What happened next was explosive fury on the street. Sewer rats ( amagundwan e) were lynched, shops set alight and kittens fed to piranhas, if you catch the drift.
As I write this, the strike action is hopelessly hung.
The employer at Impala Platinum scored a temporary victory with an interdict that could see the company overhauling the entire working environment sys- tem into one that is more hostile and dogmatic.
This strike was triggered by 500 rock drill operators when they discovered that the mine had secretly given an 18% wage increase to workers in what is called the miners category ”.
“The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was apparently involved in the shady deal but denies this.
The Marxist journal Sparcist South Africa writes in the issue of February 21 that: The divide
“and-rule deal was hatched by the Implats bosses right at the end of a long, bitter round of wage negotiations lasting from May to October 2011, during which the company pleaded bankruptcy to extort concessions from the union on the increases in the workers
’ miserable low wages.
“( Meanwhile, Implats has now reported a 67% increase in headline earnings for the six-month period ending December 2011.)”
The rookie mistakes of the workers in taking this action without following procedure can t be
’ blamed on the people alone. NUM must also share the reproach.
Anywhere in the world the workers get their roll call from their precinct captains unless
– the union is discovered to be in cohorts with the employer, which is what the workers suspect in this instance.
Workers complain about the bureaucracy of the union and the
tip jar they are using to solve “” workers problems.
’ In this strike, the workers suffered a crushing setback when Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told them the strike was illegal and they should return to work.
The call was like peeling back the layers of an onion. In a way Vavi was telling the workers that vanity got the better of them.
By Thursday late a statement was issued by Implats, signed by its CEO Paul Dunne, who thanked the 8 000 workers who had returned to work but didn t
– ’ touch on the issue of pay increments.
He wrote that redeployment was still to be extended the following day. In a way he was asking workers to return to work so that the issues could be addressed through the correct structures.
This strike revealed a class resentment issue one with a
– concentration of wealth and power, the other poor with a power base in the community holding on to a kind defiance that parlayed their status to infamy.
Whether the workers were unwittingly involved, their courage and determination, going without pay and some without food, to correct a wrong that happened on NUM s watch is the
’ – stuff of good stories.
Workers of the world could piggy-back on the idea but not
– the failure to follow procedure ”.
INCENSED: The striking miners emotions are in high gear after being addressed by Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi in Freedom Park.