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19 September 2012

Marikana miners remain defiant

Stop press:

After six weeks of defiant strike action in the teeth of violent attacks by police acting on behalf of the mining bosses, when over 40 miners were killed, the Marikana platinum miners have been offered a significant 11-22% pay increase by mine owners, Lonmin.

South African capitalists are fuming in the news media, complaining that the pay concession will lead to "contagion" throughout the rest of the mining industry.

However, it is also reported that Lonmin wants to close a shaft within a month affecting the jobs of 1,000 miners.

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Article from CWI reporters:

The intentions of the bosses and state to drown the South African miners' militancy in blood - with the Marikana massacre of 16 August - and discourage further workers' actions, have spectacularly failed. On the contrary, their struggle for a living wage has spread like wildfire, with tens of thousands of miners now on indefinite strike throughout the Rustenburg region.

The platinum mines are almost fully shut down by workers' action, with workers at the largest company, Anglo Platinum, recently announcing an indefinite strike. Action has also spread to the gold mines, where tens of thousands more are taking action, all in the fight for a living wage and in solidarity with their brutalised brothers and sisters.

Fears are developing among the country's ruling elite as to what has been unleashed, as government ministers heap blackmail on striking miners for 'putting economic growth in danger', etc.

The ruling class will now proceed to do all within its power to try to defeat the movement, through divide-and-rule tactics and new repressive actions such as those announced on 15 September, when the Justice Minister, warned of an imminent and "very swift" crackdown.

This was followed the next day with a dawn raid by 500 police on workers' shacks near the Marikana mine. Later, police using helicopters and firing rubber bullets and tear gas attacked striking miners, women and children who had gathered in a nearby field.

Miners have shown in recent days, with marches of tens of thousands to ensure the solidity of the strike, that theirs is the power to shut down the industry.

General strike

The organisation and strategy of the strikers has also seen big steps forward in recent days. Members of Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI in South Africa), have been central to the initiatives taken to unite democratic representatives of the striking miners in coordinating committees, to discuss the further spreading of the struggle and the next steps for its escalation.

Preparations for a general strike of the mining areas, one of the necessary steps emphasised by DSM, are being made.

The capitalist press in South Africa and internationally has commented on the role of the DSM in the struggle, most notably that of DSM member Mametlwe Sebei, a trade union leader.

Le Monde, the Wall Street Journal and the BBC all have made explicit references to the DSM. The South African Times paper reported: "In North West, mineworkers rejecting the formal unions have formed a Rustenburg Workers and Communities Forum under the leadership of the Democratic Socialist Movement, affiliate of the Committee for Workers' International.

"Executive member Mametlwe Sebei yesterday tried to persuade miners that a general strike should start in Rustenburg and be followed by a national strike and march to the Union Buildings.

"'This battle can be won only if we are united,' Sebei urged at a mass meeting at Amplats."

The DSM also fights to link the growing wave of struggles to implementing socialist policies - such as the nationalisation of the mines under democratic control, in order to put the country's wealth and growing economy to work for the majority, as part of a democratic socialist plan.

See www.socialist for more detailed reports and analysis

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