Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 22 May 2013

South African economy: Mass sacking threat demands mass action

Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI, South Africa) reporters

The Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) has denounced Amplats' (Anglo American - the world's largest platinum producer) cold-blooded plans to slash 6,000 jobs.

WASP stands in solidarity with the Amplats workers who are threatening strike action in protest.

With every worker supporting between six and ten dependants and each mining job estimated to generate another 26 jobs in the wider economy, these job losses spell disaster for mineworkers, their families and working class communities.

If the Amplats rentrenchment plan succeeds, mass retrenchments are likely to follow across the economy.

WASP therefore calls on all Amplats workers, the National Workers Committee and the unions in the mining industry to mobilise for united, well-organised and effective resistance.

In particular, all the federations of labour, should organise a 24-hour general strike as the starting point for a campaign of rolling mass action to unite the entire working class to defeat the retrenchments at Amplats and elsewhere.


Amplats has been condemned by other capitalists for allegedly capitulating under the pressure of the unions and the government in limiting the job cuts to 6,000 from the original 14,000.

Investors have been determined to claw back the concessions they were forced to make after the strike wave that swept across the mining industry in the latter half of 2012.

In fact, Amplats has not reneged on its investor-dictated mandate to cut production and retrench 14,000 workers.

It has simply changed the timing. The 6,000 retrenchments are merely the first instalment.

As part of the restructuring of the entire industry the mining bosses are contemplating up to 200,000 job cuts over the next five years.

Hence, Anglo Gold Ashanti has announced mechanisation of production and Sibanye Gold has announced that 5,000 workers in its Gauteng mines are "in surplus", while 3,000 will be fired as the Beatrix West mine is shut down.

With the sharpest fall in the gold price since 1983, the Chinese economy slowing markedly and continued recession in the USA, Europe and Japan, more mining companies are likely to follow suit.

This is in a situation where South Africa's real unemployment rate is 38% (as opposed to the official rate at 25.2%).

Despite the fact that these fabulously wealthy mining companies have been hugely profitable for decades, and are easily able to pay the justified wage demands of the workers, a media storm of vicious anti-working class propaganda has accompanied the jobs threats, which deliberately omits or distorts the facts about the profitability of the mines.

With no end in sight for the global economic crisis, the bosses fear that demand will decline. They are thus putting measures in place now to protect their profits against short, medium and long-term decline.

The real agenda of the Amplats bosses, the Chamber of Mines and the entire capitalist elite is to break the back of workers' unity and resistance and to restore the pre-Marikana (where 34 striking miners were gunned down by police, last August) balance of forces.

Workers have correctly concluded that the recent killing of miners, starting with the assassination of AMCU (independent union) workers' leader Mawethu Steven, is no coincidence.

The same modus operandi is at work now as last year: sinister killings, which never really ceased, by unknown forces that the police have yet to identify and arrest, to create an atmosphere of terror, and division among workers.

With the workers divided, the bosses hope to push through their cuts on jobs and production, and to comfortably sit out the strikes they expect as wage negotiations now begin.

The only alternative for the workers is to unite and fight back if the capitalists are not going to walk over the broken bones of their workforce on the way to the recovery of their system.

More cuts

With South Africa's economy in crisis, we can predict that the government - rather than taxing lavish company profits to increase its income - will try to cut public spending.

This means wage freezes and probable retrenchments in the public sector and certainly no further expansion of the social welfare net.

WASP believes the crisis in the mining industry is a mirror of the crisis in the capitalist economy as a whole.

The only way not just to save but to create jobs is for the mining industry along with the commanding heights of the economy to be nationalised under the democratic control and management of the working class.

It would then be possible to plan the economy to meet the needs of the overwhelming majority.


The Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) was launched on Sharpeville Day (21 March) to a packed hall of over 500 Pretoria municipality workers; mineworkers' delegates from a dozen mines in gold, platinum, coal and iron ore; and executive members of the 20,000-strong revolutionary transport union Natawu. The launch received extensive coverage in the South African media.

The initiative to launch WASP was born directly out of the experiences of the mineworkers in the course of their 2012 strike action.

The brutal repression and collusion of the state, the mine bosses and the corrupt union leaders, culminating in the Marikana massacre, crystalized one clear sentiment in the minds of millions: 'the ANC government does not care about us and we need our own political alternative'.

At a meeting at the end of last year, six of the rank and file strike committees that sprang up during the strikes, along with the Democratic Socialist Movement, agreed to take the step of launching WASP.

The mineworkers' national strike committee voted unanimously to back WASP at its meeting on 9 March.

WASP aims to unite the struggles of workers, communities and young people under one umbrella. WASP stands for the nationalisation of the mines and other sectors of the economy under democratic workers' control and management and intends to contest the 2014 general election.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 22 May 2013:

Fight the bedroom tax

End this 'evil bedroom tax'

Anti-bedroom tax federation launched in Merseyside

Bedroom tax campaigning in Leytonstone, Birmingham and Newham

Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories in turmoil over Europe

Big business tax avoidance scandal

Another blow for workfare

NHS staff under the cuts cosh

Them & Us

Socialist Party feature

Fighting cuts in wales

International socialist news and analysis

South African economy: Mass sacking threat demands mass action

Sri Lanka: Isolate the murderous Rajapaksa regime

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Southampton TUSC rally

Anti-blacklisting campaigner run over

University backs down: students and workers win!

Support for Mid Yorkshire Health struggle in the Mirror

Strike against legal aid cuts

March against the G8

London Socialist Party regional conference

Socialist Party workplace news

Fighting back pays off: Thera East Midlands forced to make concessions

POA conference - Prisons should not be run for profit

Support Carling brewery workers at Burton-on-Trent

Sacked Tesco drivers on the march again

PCS members fight Land Registry privatisation

Firefighters prepare for pensions battle

Workplace news in brief

Readers' comments

Cuts kill: Con-Dem benefit 'reforms', mental health and suicide

Why I joined the socialists


Home   |   The Socialist 22 May 2013   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:

South Africa:

triangleSouth African Airways workers win wage increase after strike action

triangleViolence against women in South Africa

triangleSouth Africa: Xenophobic violence - a product of failed capitalist policies

triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: How apartheid was overthrown in South Africa

triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: How apartheid was overthrown in South Africa


triangleHackney Socialist Party: A general strike - What, how, why and when?

triangleFrance striker speaks: real, deep anger needs union strategy

triangleBelfast Hovis workers' all-out strike

triangleWestex Carpets workers in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, have been on strike for two months in a dispute over pay.


triangleDurham Miners' Gala

triangle35th anniversary of the Battle of Orgreave

triangleOrgreave injustice - 35th anniversary march and rally


triangleNo free ride for the airline bosses - nationalise Flybe now!

triangleThem & Us

Democratic Socialist Movement:

triangleNigeria: Stop police harassment of Abbey and Azeez!


triangleIndia: Huge general strike but a missed opportunity





India: Huge general strike but a missed opportunity



Iraq - a brutal legacy of imperialist intervention



France striker speaks: real, deep anger needs union strategy



Eyewitness report: workers' struggle in France on the boil



Renewed protests shake Iranian leaders



France: Battle over pension rights continues



International wave of revolt continues



India: Huge numbers protest



French workers determined to defeat Macron



Millions strike in France


South Africa

South African Airways workers win wage increase after strike action


Hong Kong

Hong Kong's uprising


Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Presidential election sees return of dictatorial Rajapaksa clan



Regime's fuel price rise sparks massive protests across Iran



Amazon bosses defeated in Seattle - Kshama Sawant reelected

triangleMore International articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

January 2020