After Marikana

What way forward for the mineworkers

This booklet was written in November 2013 by the Democratic Socialist Movement, the forerunner of the Workers and Socialist Party.

Download as a booklet here.

  • Build a democratic fighting worker-led AMCU
  • Struggle for a R12 500 monthly minimum wage
  • Nationalise the mines under workers’ control and management
  • Learn the lessons of Marikana
  • Support the Workers and Socialist Party

Introduction

The Marikana massacre was a watershed. The murder of 34 mineworkers drew a line in the sand dividing the post-apartheid era into two. Marikana illuminated with blinding clarity all the accumulated political and social contradictions in the country. The massacre led millions to the realisation that the ANC and their Tripartite Alliance partners – the National Union of Mineworkers leadership, the pro-capitalist Cosatu leaders and the South African Communist Party (SACP) – govern in the interests of the mine bosses and the capitalist class. For them, profits are more important than the lives of workers.

Even the toothless Farlam Commission – set up by the murderers themselves to try and gloss over what Marikana represented – cannot hide the truth: the massacre was premeditated. Without the collusion of the ANC government, the mine bosses and the leadership of NUM, Marikana could not have happened. The mineworkers’ rejection of NUM and the organisation of independent rank-and-file strike committees to lead the 2012 strikes was simultaneously the greatest threat to the mine bosses and the greatest achievement of the mineworkers. With the workers’ rejection of NUM a pillar of the post-1994 capitalist order crumbled.  Mineworkers emerged from the NUM’s prison of class collaboration and reasserted their class and political independence. Thus Marikana was an attempt to drown in blood the struggles of the mineworkers, clip the wings of their new found class independence and teach the entire working class a brutal lesson not to challenge the existing order.

But the ruling class has not succeeded. The processes that led to the explosion of workers’ struggle in the mining industry in 2012 are too deep-seated and profound. The mineworkers have suffered brutal exploitation over many years. South Africa is characterised by massive inequality of wealth. The grinding poverty of the majority exists next to the lavish wealth of the minority. A steady increase in struggle over recent years in strikes, service delivery protests and the struggles of the youth has culminated in the ebbing away of support for the ANC and its allies.

All this taken together meant that Marikana in fact accelerated the process its perpetrators intended to halt. As marks the dawn of any new era, the working class is of necessity going through a process of ideological and political clarification and organisational realignment. The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) is writing this pamphlet to help arm mineworkers with the ideas and strategy necessary for the new era.

One of the most important new features in the day-to-day life and struggles of the mineworkers is the emergence of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) as the majority union in the platinum sector and in the major gold producers in Gauteng. It was the action of the mineworkers in 2012, led by the workers’ own strike committees that elevated AMCU to this position. Following the abandonment of NUM, mineworkers looked for another union and found AMCU ready-made and waiting.

The DSM welcomed the mineworkers breaking free from the prison of NUM. AMCU’s replacement of NUM as the majority union across so much of the mining sector is potentially an improvement on the previous situation where NUM enjoyed unchallenged domination and betrayed the workers by actively colluding with the bosses. But ultimately, the DSM’s loyalty is to the interests of the mineworkers and the working class as a whole. It is our loyalty to that cause that we seek to advance by writing this pamphlet. The DSM sincerely hopes that AMCU can become the union worthy of inheriting the traditions of the mineworkers’ struggles of last year and prepare them for the struggles that loom ahead in the mining industry and South Africa as a whole. But AMCU still has some distance to travel to claim that mantle.

The background to the class struggle in the South African mining sector is the continuing world crisis of capitalism, now more than five years old. The mining industry in South Africa is beholden to the capitalist world market. The zigzags of the crisis have led to a corresponding zigzag in the world price of gold and platinum in particular and therefore the profits of the mining bosses. Under the pressure of the relentless greed of the shareholders demanding their regular pay-outs – or dividends – the mine bosses are preparing to make workers pay for the crisis of the capitalist system.

The mine bosses and the capitalist class are crystal clear on the strategy they need to pursue. Ever since the 2012 strikes ended the mine bosses have been waging a relentless campaign to reassert their control. Many of the strike committee leaders have been dismissed or imprisoned, attempts are on-going to corrupt AMCU, and mass retrenchments have been used to try and demoralise, fragment and disunite the mineworkers. The 20,000 retrenchments already enacted this year – at Amplats, Steelport and elsewhere – are merely the first salvo in plans to retrench up to 200 000 mineworkers over the next five years as revealed in the leaked documents of the mine bosses themselves. So far AMCU’s strategy has not prevented retrenchments from taking place.

The mine bosses continue to use the rump of NUM as a treacherous fifth column in the ranks of the mineworkers. The violence in Rustenburg attributed to so-called ‘union rivalry’ is hyped up by the media – in particular the murder of NUM officials or former NUM officials. DSM condemns this violence and extends its sympathies to the families of those murdered. Such violence only strengthens the enemies of the mineworkers – it gives the state forces the excuse to increase the repression of the mineworkers; it allows NUM to be portrayed as the ‘victims’ and the ‘moderate’ and ‘reasonable’ voice of the mineworkers; and it allows the NUM leader’s allies in the ANC and SACP to portray the mineworkers as mindless thugs whose grievances and demands are illegitimate and should therefore be ignored.

While it is not the most likely scenario, it cannot be excluded that this campaign of violence is being orchestrated by forces wishing to discredit AMCU in order to undermine the struggles and strength of the mineworkers. We must not forget the lessons of how the ‘third force’ was used to try and create a pretext for a clampdown on the liberation struggle in the early 1990s during the dying days of apartheid. The DSM is calling for a worker-led enquiry made up of rank-and-file mineworkers from all sectors and unions elected by the mineworkers themselves to investigate the violence in Rustenburg.

In the platinum sector in particular – where AMCU has its main base – the mine bosses are preparing for a decisive showdown. Already, several shafts have been closed and thousands of workers retrenched. It has also been reported that the major platinum producers have stockpiled up to six weeks of platinum and that the inventories at major factories and traders have stockpiles of up to 1,000 days. The mine bosses will be prepared to starve the workers back to work. The serious preparations on the side of the class enemy require an equally serious preparation on our side – the side of the mineworkers and the working class as a whole.

In the situation facing the mineworkers, ‘business as usual’ will simply not do. The AMCU leadership cannot take it for granted that mineworkers will remain blindly loyal to them if they let the workers down. Whilst it is correct for the AMCU leadership to raise the demand for a monthly minimum wage of R12 500 – the key demand of the 2012 strikes – they have yet to organise a serious struggle to win it. As we will go on to explain, this failure finds its origin in the mistaken position of the AMCU leadership on a number of key questions that are ultimately caused by the leadership’s failure to fully recognise what Marikana represented and the deeper social and political processes that elevated AMCU into its new position. Flowing from this, AMCU has not yet been placed on the solid foundations of socialism – the ultimate expression of working class interests.

Mineworkers need to press on with their struggle to forge an organisation and leadership worthy of them. Mineworkers must struggle to ensure AMCU is the organisation they want, and need, it to be. In writing this pamphlet, we aim to help AMCU’s new members – the most heroic, combative and class conscious sections of the mineworkers – to try and turn AMCU into a mighty, democratic and worker-controlled union that stands for struggle, solidarity and socialism.

 

 

The role of the DSM in the struggles of the mineworkers

The DSM was present in the platinum belt long before the Marikana massacre, contrary to what some uninformed commentators say. We recognised that the ‘love-triangle’ between the mine bosses, the ANC government and the NUM leadership was pushing the mineworkers ahead of most workers into facing up to the betrayals of their leaders. The use of super-exploitative labour brokers and contractors was fuelled by the mine bosses’ hunger for mega-profits and the politicians’ (many of them ex-trade unionists) thirst for tenders and BEE deals. Workers were left to survive on starvation wages abandoned by the union leaders.

 

Establishing a base with the Murray & Roberts workers

In 2009 the DSM met a group of more than 4000 workers from Aquarius Platinum’s Kroondal shafts which were then managed by Murray & Roberts (M&R). These workers had been dismissed after a wage strike in August 2009 after NUM first obtained a strike certificate, then cut a deal with management behind the workers’ backs.

When the M&R workers asked us for assistance they were in a weak position having already been dismissed from work, removed from the workplace and abandoned and condemned by NUM. They had no jobs to return to. We agreed to help them fight back despite the bleak situation. We explained that whilst we could not deliver any instant solution to their dismissal we would assist them in fighting a legal case and arm them with a socialist programme and analysis that would help them draw out the lessons of their betrayal by NUM for future struggles.

We were able to push the M&R workers dismissal case through the Labour Court under the banner of the Metal and Electrical Workers Union of South Africa (MEWUSA). At the time we had a comrade working as an official for that union and a base amongst its members. We explained that the Labour Court is hostile territory for workers so if there was to be any chance of success for their case it would depend on the workers remaining united and organised. The M&R workers had already elected a strike committee and continued to hold weekly mass meetings. The workers, many of them strike committee members, had concluded that they needed to get organised not only for their fight for justice against M&R but also to put an end to capitalism. They joined DSM and founded our first mineworkers’ branch at Kroondal in Rustenburg.

Local branches are the building blocks of DSM. They meet every week as a political school and to discuss and plan the next steps in all the struggles we are engaged in. Comrades of the Kroondal branch together with comrades based at the DSM’s national office in Johannesburg took part in and supported the struggles around Rustenburg in the following years including the Lonmin workers when they went on strike at the Karee shafts in 2011, and the Impala workers who took strike action in January 2012.

 

The exodus from NUM and the rise of AMCU

The M&R workers had come to see the NUM leadership for what it was – the extended arm of the mining bosses’ HR departments. This was before most  mineworkers drew this conclusion. When discussing with workers at other shafts and companies who had not yet had the same experience as the M&R workers, we were patient yet firm in pointing to the NUM leadership’s weaknesses. Although DSM’s perspective was that the rot of class collaboration and corruption had grown so deep-rooted within the NUM that the union was likely beyond rescue, at that stage we encouraged those workers who were still inside NUM to organise to reclaim the union as a worker-controlled, fighting socialist union whilst warning that developments pointed relentlessly to the likelihood of workers moving out of NUM in search of a fighting alternative.

When the Impala strike in early 2012 ended with victory for the workers (see next section) the idea of moving into AMCU as a viable mass alternative to NUM spread across the Rustenburg shafts. DSM recognised that the changed situation necessitated abandoning the dual position described above. Instead we began to encourage workers to protect their unity by moving as one into AMCU. This was not because we saw AMCU as a ‘perfect’ union, but because we recognised the urgent need to preserve the unity of the mineworkers – the very basis for working class struggle – which was beginning to fragment as the exodus from NUM to AMCU picked up pace. DSM never gave an unqualified endorsement to mineworkers to join AMCU. We always raised the following warning: AMCU is untested and if you join it you must campaign to ensure that AMCU becomes the union it needs to be in order to defend mineworkers and advance their interests in the struggles that lie ahead.

 

Marikana unites Rustenburg in action

In August 2012 when the strike at Lonmin for a R12 500 monthly minimum wage started the DSM naturally supported it. The Marikana massacre changed the situation decisively. Immediately after the Marikana massacre, we put out a pamphlet calling for workers to respond by shutting down all Rustenburg shafts in a local general strike. We used DSM’s developing network of members and contacts branching out from the M&R workers to travel across the mines linking up workers in the different companies and shafts. In several companies, such as Amplats and Samancor, independent strike committees had already been formed by the workers long before the massacre. In others, such as Royal Bafokeng, workers reacted to the massacre by laying down tools and electing a strike committee.

After weeks of patient work and the undented determination of the mineworkers, the possibility of calling a coordinated strike across all Rustenburg’s mines was becoming very real. Amplats, the world’s biggest platinum producer with more than 50 000 workers in its North West and Rustenburg shafts, was crucial. The Amplats strike committee agreed that they must give a lead by starting their strike earlier than others. From the platform of the Amplats strike a meeting with representatives of the strike committees of Lonmin, Amplats, Samancor and Aquarius, together with the DSM and representatives of a Marikana youth group was called for September 11, 2012. This meeting founded the Rustenburg Joint Coordinating Strike Committee.

The Rustenburg Joint Coordinating Strike Committee agreed to organise a coordinated strike for Thursday September 13. In response to the joint strike call, even those companies where the DSM had not yet built a base, such as Xstrata, shut down for a few days. In many cases management ordered the shut-downs fearful of the mineworkers’ militancy. For a few days mid-September, nearly the whole of Rustenburg’s mining industry was closed down. This was the worst nightmare of the mining bosses and the government – ‘contagion’, as they called it.

The government decided to respond with both carrot and stick. On the one hand, pressure was brought to bear on the Lonmin management to put something on the table for the workers. This represented a complete U-turn on the part of management under the pressure of the strike. Up until the coordinated strike, management had dismissed some 20 000+ workers, threatened others with dismissal and refused to speak to the strike committees. Unfortunately, despite Impala Platinum representatives participating in the meeting that decided to embark upon the strike Impala did not take part.

From the government’s side, a state of emergency in all but name was enforced by President Zuma and a wave of repression was unleashed particularly on the Lonmin workers. The police and army invaded the shacks and hostels at Nkaneng and Wonderkop, confiscating ‘illegal weapons’, arresting ‘suspects’, indiscriminately shooting rubber bullets and firing tear gas. This brutal approach was calculated to isolate the Lonmin workers from the other striking workers. Management had some success in pulling the Lonmin worker’s leaders away from the Rustenburg strike coomittee for a period, nevertheless talks led to the agreement of 11-22% wage increases at Lonmin. In the eyes of mineworkers everywhere this confirmed that workers could win concessions with struggle. The mining bosses and the government had miscalculated and instead of putting out the fire they had thrown oil on the flames.

 

Birth of the National Strike Committee

By now the DSM was receiving calls from mineworkers from across the country who were joining the strike and seeking unity and advice. To maximise the strength of the strike beginning to encompass the entire mining industry, well beyond Rustenburg, DSM travelled across the mines of the North West, Limpopo and Gauteng to try and link workers up. This became the basis for the National Strike Committee, which was formed on October 13 2012 at a meeting in Marikana. More than 120 representatives attended representing over 150 000 mineworkers organised in independent committees.

The government was so alarmed that they multiplied their efforts to infiltrate and divide the workers. Crazy rumours began circulating (as they still do today) about the DSM. NUM blamed the DSM for murdering its shop stewards and the South African Communist Party (SACP) implied that the DSM were ‘counter-revolutionaries’ who should be ‘gotten rid of’. This reactionary campaign had a certain impact on the unity and functioning of the National Strike Committee. Nevertheless, the coming together of the independent strike committees first in Rustenburg and then across provinces and sectors made an enormous contribution to the strike movement following Marikana.

The determined strike action resulted in the historic victory of the Lonmin workers under the leadership of their own strike committee. The punitive dismissal of 12 000 Amplats workers was defeated. Workers across platinum and gold won ‘allowances’ to compensate for lost income during the strikes. The joint strike committee saw the mineworkers re-establish their class independence by providing the bridge for breaking out of the NUM ‘prison’ of class collaboration and betrayals. The scale of the victories on the basis of the formidable unity of the mineworkers through the Rustenburg and National strike committees was unlike anything in the past twenty years. The key difference in this situation compared to the isolated struggles of the past was the presence of a revolutionary Marxist party in the form of the DSM, who in the course of the struggle, recruited the flower of the mineworkers’ leaders and armed them with the ideas and strategy necessary to wage their struggle.

But the mineworkers drew far more wide-reaching conclusions about the nature of society in the course of the 2012 strikes. In rejecting NUM the mineworkers were simultaneously rejecting the ANC. But the mineworkers were not prepared to leave a political vacuum. At mass meeting after mass meeting, when the DSM put forward the idea of building a new mass party of the working class the idea was applauded and the mineworkers took the demand up as their own. It was from the 2012 strikes that the road was embarked upon that led to the formation of the Workers and Socialist Party in December 2012.

 

AMCU denounced

The DSM dissociated itself from the reactionary denunciations, led by the SACP,   of AMCU as a vigilante union. This was in fact a denunciation of the workers who, after years of betrayals by the NUM, decided to take the leadership of their struggles into their own hands through the formation of the independent strike committees. AMCU did not lead the uprisings that swept across the mines in the latter half of 2012. AMCU merely inherited the membership of the NUM against which the workers had rebelled.

The SACP’s characterisation of AMCU is a perfect illustration of how an incorrect appraisal of a political process and an incorrect analysis of a political phenomenon can lead to entirely reactionary consequences. Marching to the drumbeat of the SACP leadership, the pro-capitalist Cosatu leaders initiated a campaign to “reclaim Rustenburg from the hands of the counter-revolution”. This could only mean the DSM and the independent strike committees. This campaign  had the potential to lead to worker-on-worker violence. In effect the SACP leadership attempted to supplement the aims of the state-organised Marikana massacre – to break the solidarity, combativeness and independence of the workers – and through the ”hands off the NUM” campaign  send the workers back into the prison of class collaboration. The same NUM leadership  who not only failed to lead the Lonmin strike, but denounced the demand for R12 500 as unrealistic and the workers’ victory as a “wrong precedent”! This catastrophic policy is one of the most important contributing factors leading to the impending disintegration of Cosatu.

The ending of the strike wave of 2012 was not the final word in the struggle of the mineworkers. It was the closing of but one chapter that reconfigured the political landscape and balance of forces in every corner of the mining industry and across South Africa as a whole. The most significant feature of the changed landscape in the mining sector, especially for the day-to-day struggles of the mineworkers is the arrival of AMCU. It is to AMCU that the remainder of this pamphlet will now turn.

 

Where did AMCU come from? AMCU’s history

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) emerged as a split from the NUM in 1999 in Mpumalanga after an unprotected strike and occupation at the Douglas Colliery (today part of Besca – BHP Billiton Energy Coal). 3,000 workers took action in solidarity with their sacked NUM branch chairperson, Joseph Mathunjwa, then a lab-assistant at the colliery and today AMCU’s president. The action was successful and Mathunjwa was reinstated. However, under then general secretary Gwede Mantashe (today general secretary of the ANC and amongst those who have blamed DSM for the ‘anarchy’ in the mining industry), NUM decided to expel Mathunjwa for “bringing the union into disrepute”.

In solidarity, all 3,000 workers resigned their NUM membership and founded AMCU, registering with the Department of Labour in 2001. AMCU is affiliated to the trade union federation National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu). For more than ten years AMCU was a marginal union in the mining sector winning organising rights in a number of minor mining companies.

 

AMCU enters Rustenburg

However, the basis for changing this was laid in the months and years before Marikana. Workers across the mining sector became increasingly frustrated and angry at the NUM leaders’ ever closer and cosier relationship with mine management. The NUM leaders’ betrayals were encouraged through NUM’s alliance with the ruling pro-capitalist ANC government. A revolving door was developing between an increasingly corrupt NUM leadership, the management boards of the mining companies and the leadership bodies of the ANC. Workers were beginning to see it was impossible to determine where one began and the other ended. It was clear NUM was betraying their struggles. This opened up a space for a new union to build support.

From 2009, MEWUSA, under the influence of the DSM, had begun to eat away at NUM support at Murray & Roberts and Xstrata in Kroondal. However MEWUSA’s role in the mining sector came to an abrupt end in early 2011 when the union split as the leadership purged DSM supporters who were fighting to expose corruption within that union. MEWUSA then abandoned efforts to organise mineworkers and collapsed in the mines strengthening NUM while NUMSA also began to step into the gap.

AMCU’s first inroad in Rustenburg came in the wake of the strike at Lonmin’s Karee shafts in May 2011. 9000 workers went on an unprotected strike in protest at the collusion between management and the NUM region in overturning the workers’ re-election of the branch committee. All 9000 workers were dismissed. Most were eventually re-employed, but a section identified as ‘instigators’ were left out, among them the dismissed shop stewards. One of them was Mawethu Steve, who then introduced AMCU at Karee, and later became AMCU’s first organiser in Rustenburg. Tragically Steve was assassinated by unknown assailants in May 2013.

The strike which broke out at Impala Platinum (Impala) in Rustenburg in January 2012 (seven months before Marikana) gave AMCU the chance for a decisive breakthrough in membership and influence amongst mineworkers in the major mining companies. Impala workers embarked on an unprotected strike, initiated by the Rock Drill Operators (RDOs) who were demanding the same bonuses that had been agreed for higher grades. The strike spread across Impala’s 14 shafts as workers came out on strike in solidarity with the RDOs. Management hit back with the dismissal of over 17,000 workers in February.

AMCU had been waging a low level recruitment campaign at Impala with little success in the preceding months. But with the obvious collusion of NUM with the Impala management, the workers had had enough. The determined action of the Impala RDOs, supported by their comrades in other grades, over 17 weeks, led to a full return to work and a pay rise for the RDOs. This victory was won by the workers at Impala taking matters into their own hands by ejecting the traitorous NUM and waging a determined struggle under their own leadership. It was into the vacuum created by the Impala workers ejection of NUM that AMCU stepped. AMCU rapidly became the majority union. The victory of the Impala workers, led by the RDOs, became the stuff of legend across the platinum belt. The workers’ glory at Impala was reflected onto AMCU.

This process was repeated writ-large when the entire mining industry exploded in struggles initiated by the RDOs at Lonmin following in Impala’s footsteps that would ultimately lead to the Marikana massacre. Workers ejected NUM, set up their own strike committees independent of any union (including AMCU) to lead their struggle. Again, in the vacuum created by NUM’s eviction, AMCU was able to recruit during the course of the strikes, but especially after the strikes ended.

 

Working class unity: how can R12 000 be won?

Unity is central to maximising the strength of the working class and the effectiveness of struggle. The mineworkers demonstrated their understanding of this last year in the way the independent strike committees emerged and linked up. But whilst DSM favours the maximum unity of the working class, we do not favour the ‘unity of the graveyard’. In other words, there is little point in remaining ‘united’, if the organisation that we are united in refuses to lead struggle, as was the case in NUM. That is why the exodus from NUM was a progressive step and one that increased the strength of the mineworkers.

However, large numbers of mineworkers have remained in NUM leaving the mining sector spilt into what all too often appears to be two hostile camps. Whilst there have been a number of heroic strikes in the mining sector post-Marikana, these have been waged alternately under the banner of AMCU and NUM. The sector-wide unity that made the strikes of last year so powerful – without NUM or AMCU playing a role – has been absent, making the victories scored smaller than they otherwise might have been.

This suggests that the rivalry between the union leaderships for members and influence is being elevated above the interests of the mineworkers and the working class. This is unacceptable to us and it must be unacceptable to AMCU members.

 

NUM leaders and NUM members

AMCU’s replacement of NUM as the majority union across so much of the mining sector is potentially an improvement on the previous situation where NUM enjoyed unchallenged domination and betrayed the workers by actively colluding with the bosses. We should add to this that the primary and undisputed blame for the initial divisions amongst the mineworkers lies much more with the NUM leadership than the AMCU leadership. However, the AMCU leadership could do more to appeal to NUM members for unity in action, thus exposing the NUM leadership and ultimately restore the solidarity and power of the workers.

A crucial distinction that AMCU members need to make is between the NUM leadership, whom DSM condemns as traitors of the working class and amongst those responsible for Marikana, and the NUM membership. We understand that AMCU members, particularly in the platinum belt and Gauteng goldfields, find it frustrating that not all NUM members have recognised the treacherous role of the NUM leaders and left NUM for AMCU. However, that frustration must be tempered into a desire to expose the NUM leaders in the eyes of the remaining NUM members and to restore workers’ unity. Not every mining area was touched in the same way by last year’s strikes. For example, the workers at the iron ore mines of the Northern Cape, the gold mines of the Free State, the coalfields of Witbank and the smaller diamond mines dotted around the country have not had the same experiences as the mass of mineworkers in the platinum belt and the Gauteng goldfields who have had the treachery of the NUM leadership revealed to them in the starkest possible way. It is the job of AMCU members to help the remaining NUM membership come to this conclusion by joining forces with them in action.

But DSM does not believe this can be done by denouncing the NUM leadership alone, as correct as those denunciations are. AMCU members must extend the hand of friendship and solidarity to NUM members and appeal for unity in action. We must rescue the ordinary members of NUM – our brothers and sisters – from this misleadership. If we succeed in this we will be weakening the enemy within our midst and increasing workers’ strength by maximising workers’ unity.

 

The 2013 gold wage strikes: a warning to AMCU members

Unfortunately, the AMCU leadership has not clearly recognised that this is the strategy they need to adopt. For example, during the gold sector strikes in September 2013 for wage increases, NUM members took strike action but the AMCU leadership refused to call AMCU members out. In fact the AMCU leadership took measures to ensure that AMCU members did not participate. The AMCU leadership’s stance weakened the scale of the victory that could have been won. Because of the bargaining structure that exists in the gold sector it was known from the outset that AMCU members would end up with the same deal as NUM members whether or not they joined the action. It was therefore to the detriment of AMCU members’ interests for the AMCU leadership not to call AMCU members out alongside NUM for a gold sector-wide strike. This would have maximised the pressure on the gold mining bosses and the chances of extracting the best possible wage deal.

Instead, at a mass meeting of AMCU members in the Gauteng gold fields, Mathunjwa denounced the NUM-led strike and wage demands and said AMCU demanded nothing less than a R12 500 minimum wage. A vote was held and more than 8000 AMCU workers voted in favour of strike action to back up the R 12 500 demand. Whilst it is to be applauded that the AMCU leadership has raised this crucial demand born out of last year’s struggle, to date the AMCU leadership has done nothing to carry out the mandate given to them.

Unfortunately, the only explanation that we can give for this episode is that out of nothing more than union rivalry, the AMCU leadership kept AMCU members out of the fight. Belatedly realising the damage this could do to the leadership’s militant reputation, or the potential for AMCU members to come out in support of the strike regardless undermining the AMCU leaders, the mass meeting vote and R12 500 demand was a crude attempt to appear more radical than NUM. This explanation is strengthened when it is noted that the AMCU leadership itself settled for a 9% pay deal for AMCU members at Forbes Coal, a nearly identical deal to the 8% deal struck by NUM for the goldfields that AMCU denounced in favour of the R 12 500 demand.

In effect, the idea was sown amongst AMCU members that the NUM strike was too meek and limited in its wage demands, should therefore be ignored, and that the real militants in the AMCU leadership were going to lead a struggle for the real prize – a R12 500 minimum wage. Except that at the time of writing this struggle has not happened. Sadly, the posture of the AMCU leadership will have strengthened the hold of the NUM leaders over the remaining NUM members in the goldfields. It was NUM who led a strike and NUM members who won concessions on wages from the gold mine bosses. AMCU sounded more radical but in reality did nothing. Their misleadership led to a smaller and therefore less damaging strike for the gold mine bosses. The wage settlement for all gold mineworkers was correspondingly smaller than might otherwise have been the case if the AMCU leadership led AMCU members out on strike alongside NUM. What conclusion is there other than that the AMCU leadership elevated rivalry between the AMCU and NUM leaders above the collective interests of the mineworkers? An opportunity to weaken the NUM leadership and appeal to NUM members was lost.

The NUM leadership, more ruthless and calculating, played their hand more cleverly when AMCU led workers out on strike at Amplats in October 2013 against retrenchments. They publically welcomed AMCU’s strike! This was of course calculated to soften their image in the eyes of AMCU members in the hopes of winning them back to NUM rather than out of genuine support for the strike. But nevertheless, so far the AMCU leadership has played into the hands of the NUM leadership. They have allowed the NUM leaders to portray the AMCU leaders as hostile to NUM members rather than the NUM leaders. AMCU members must not let mistakes by the AMCU leadership allow the NUM leaders – the wolves in sheep’s clothing – to maintain their sway over any section of mineworkers. Their influence must be broken once and for all.

 

How can the R 12 500 minimum wage be won?

DSM does not want the divisions between AMCU and NUM workers to persist. This would be a grave mistake. The advice we are giving to AMCU members is designed to help them re-establish unity by ensuring that the same principles that the independent strike committees were based upon – the unity of all workers in struggle – are resuscitated even as they build AMCU structures.

We point this out as many fantastic rumours can be heard about DSM and the Workers and Socialist Party. We heard that AMCU officials have told workers that WASP wants them to go back to NUM. This is rubbish! WASP was founded  by the mineworkers who left NUM last year. They are the last people who would advocate a return to the prison of NUM! The only evidence given for this lie was that WASP members wear red t-shirts which is the same colour as NUM’s t-shirts. Red is the colour of workers struggle and socialism, the very traditions that NUM has betrayed. We must reclaim that colour from them. (See next chapter for more details on WASP).

DSM is fully behind the R 12 500 minimum wage demand and is serious about helping mineworkers to win it. But we must warn that based on the current balance of forces in the mining sector and the wider economic and political situation, the R 12 500 minimum wage demand cannot be won by one union alone. It will take a united struggle of all mineworkers, in every union, and in every sector, backed-up by the active support of the wider working class. For the AMCU leadership to suggest otherwise only delays serious preparation for this necessary struggle.

Whilst a minimum wage of R12 500 is entirely affordable on the basis of the mine bosses’ super-profits, it would still represent a major concession on their part, and one they will not make unless forced to as a last resort. It must not be forgotten that historically the mining bosses have played the role of the vanguard of the capitalist class. The almost unanimous denunciation of the settlement of the Lonmin strike was based on the fear that workers across the country would be inspired by the evidence that concessions can be won through struggle. But it also went far beyond the issue of wages. The Lonmin settlement had demonstrated that to achieve their aims, workers would have to break through and if necessary desecrate the holy cow of the collective bargaining system. This is why the Lonmin bosses have in effect reneged on the increases they offered, declaring them as “without legal standing” because they were agreed with the independent strike committees, structures for which there is no provision in the Labour Relations Act and the collective bargaining system.

Even in the face of the 2012 strikes and in the wake of international condemnation of the Marikana massacre the mine bosses did not concede R12 500. With such high stakes, the mining bosses would be willing to weather a prolonged strike by a single section of the mineworkers. In other words, if AMCU members went out alone in an attempt to win the R12 500, the mine bosses would try and starve them back rather than concede. The mine bosses would use the NUM as a treacherous fifth column to divide the workers and sow confusion.

The struggle that will be necessary to win a R12 500 minimum wage requires serious preparation something that unfortunately the AMCU leadership seems to be making no provision for. A struggle to win R12 500 will require drawing in every section of the mineworkers through a programme of rolling mass action. In the first instance this means pursuing a strategy to   win over the remaining NUM members. It will also require mobilising the mining communities and youth in all mining areas in support of the strike. This will require linking the mining communities’ demands around service delivery to the mineworkers’ wage demands. The mineworkers will need to call for the formation of support groups across the country in all workplaces and working class communities and call for the working class as a whole to come to their aid in national demonstrations, solidarity strikes and ultimately a general strike to force the mine bosses to concede.

 

Build the Socialist Trade Union Network

The DSM is co-launching the Socialist Trade Union Network (STUN) as an initiative to try and build workers unity in action regardless of union membership and political affiliation. STUN is aiming to resurrect the traditions of the independent strike committees that made last year’s strikes so powerful. The decision to launch STUN is based on the recognition of a general process taking place in society: the working class is in danger of fragmenting as a result of the betrayals of the ANC and their Alliance partners the NUM leadership and the pro-capitalist Cosatu leaders. In every sector, workers are leaving Cosatu affiliates. The exodus from NUM to AMCU is just the starkest and most high profile example of this general process.

The danger is that without an organised pole to regroup those workers leaving Cosatu affiliates that can simultaneously act as a bridge to those workers remaining for now, the capitalist class will be able to utilise the organisational divisions and the corresponding diminishing of the working classes fighting capacity in order to attack. We must not allow them to storm through the breach in our defences, but must lead the charge in the regrouping of all workers to shore up our defences.

This danger is nowhere more apparent than in the mining industry, where, as we have outlined above, the divisions between mineworkers in different unions, the continuing treachery of the NUM leadership, and the mistakes of the AMCU leadership on this question, has left workers struggling with one arm tied behind their backs. We call on AMCU members to launch local STUN groups that would allow AMCU members to speak directly to rank-and-file NUM members and work with those rank-and-file NUM members who genuinely want to advance the interests of all mineworkers.

Such an initiative by AMCU members would disarm the NUM leaders and pull the rug from under the feet of corrupt NUM shop stewards. AMCU members would be creating a network that would allow them to talk directly to ordinary NUM members without the NUM leader’s treacherous lies sowing confusion and stoking divisions between workers. Such networks would allow AMCU members to appeal directly for the support of NUM members when they take strike action, and vice versa. Workers would be able to test out directly and independently whether their leader’s advice is correct.

It suits self-interested and corrupt leaders – such as the NUM leaders – to try and erect barriers between workers in order to play divide and rule. We must break down those barriers to build the maximum unity of workers and therefore maximise our fighting capacity. Genuine leaders have nothing to fear from such fraternisation. If the AMCU leadership is genuine in its desire to advance the interests of AMCU members and the mineworkers in general they have nothing to fear from initiatives such as STUN. In fact AMCU members should demand that the AMCU leadership take a lead in establishing networks as the best way of winning over NUM members to AMCU and leaving the NUM leadership suspended in mid-air.

STUN networks are by definition not limited to a single sector. STUN networks can play the role of uniting mineworkers with fighting unions and other groups of workers outside of the mining industry. The wider working class will need to actively support the mineworkers in their struggle for the R 12,500 minimum wage. Building such links now is part of the vital preparation that will be necessary to wage that struggle on a serious basis.

In the next section we will deal with the necessity for political unity and the need for socialist nationalisation.

The political programme of STUN includes:

  • For democratic worker controlled unions. Nothing that affects workers must be done without workers. No meetings between union officials and the bosses without the knowledge and presence of workers’ representatives. Wage settlements and when to begin and end strikes must be the democratic decision of workers.
  • For unity in struggle. For solidarity with all workers in struggle.
  • No to self-enrichment and privileges for leadership. Shop stewards and union officials to earn the same wages as workers.
  • For nationalisation and socialism on the basis of democratic workers’ control and management.

The organisational principles of STUN include:

  • Open to all workers who agree with the programme regardless of political and trade union affiliation and all workers structures whether recognised unions, union factions, or independent rank-and-file structures. On this STUN exercises extreme flexibility.
  • Encourage the establishment of workplace, local, and industry wide networks where there are divisions between unions to allow unity to be built in action.
  • Without attempting to substitute itself for the existing federations, the Network aims to overcome the paralysis of Cosatu and the lack of coordination between federations by uniting workers in struggle linking up workers to face the onslaught on jobs in the mining industry, e-tolls, labour broking, rising electricity, fuel and food prices. As such it will not offer traditional ‘membership services’, but rather act as a political organising centre to take the struggle forward.

 

Build a mass workers party on a socialist programme: reject the AMCU leadership’s so-called ‘apolitical’ position

The most important outcome of the Marikana massacre is the shattering of the 1994 political settlement. As the ANC pursues openly capitalist policies it is coming into sharper and sharper conflict with the working class. The ANC’s manifesto for the 2014 elections – the National Development Plan – is a neo-liberal document that prioritises the profits of big business over the wages, conditions and living standards of the working class. It is this contradiction that lies behind the crisis in Cosatu. Cosatu cannot represent the interests of the working class whilst supporting a government that attacks the working class! To rub salt in the wounds of the mineworkers, the likely successor at this stage to Zuma as ANC leader is Cyril Ramaphosa, a former NUM general secretary, mine owner and implicated more than any other figure in the ANC as an architect of the Marikana massacre.

In increasing numbers, workers and communities have been deciding that they will no longer support the ANC. Understandably over 12 million did not even bother to vote in the last elections. This process was accelerated massively by Marikana. One mineworker commented in a TV interview: “how can we support a government that shoots us?” Breaking from NUM was simultaneously the breaking of the political link with the ANC.

The mineworkers in the course of the struggle last year drew the inevitable conclusion from Marikana: no one speaks for us so we need our own party. The DSM has raised the need for a new mass workers’ party for many years since the betrayals of the ANC became obvious. In the situation in the mining areas following Marikana, when this idea was put to mass meetings, the idea was taken up by mineworkers as their own. It was from the mineworkers’ recognition of the need for their own party from which the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) emerged.

 

The Workers and Socialist Party

WASP was founded on December 15 2012 by representatives of six strike committees and the DSM. WASP would be a socialist party that expressed the interests of the mineworkers and the wider working class. WASP would stand for the nationalisation of the mines on the basis of democratic workers control as part of a democratically planned socialist economy (see page 14 for WASP’s Manifesto). Shortly after WASP’s founding the National Strike Committee voted unanimously to back WASP as their party and on March 21 2013 WASP was launched in Tshwane to enormous success. Over 500 workers attended including representatives from the National Strike Committee and mines in the North West, Gauteng, Northern Cape and Limpopo. The mineworkers’ political party – indeed the party for the entire working class – had been born.

WASP is the creation of the mineworkers. It was born out of the struggles of 2012 and part of the mineworkers’ response to the tragedy of Marikana. Why then does the AMCU leadership not support your party?

 

What does being ‘apolitical’ mean in practice?

The AMCU leadership’s position is described by Mathunjwa as ‘apolitical’. What can this mean? The AMCU leadership argues that AMCU members have many different political affiliations – some still support the ANC, other tiny minorities support other small parties – and it is not AMCU’s place to tell workers who they should give their political allegiance to. In other words the AMCU leadership wants to remain ‘neutral’. History shows us this is impossible. The result of this neutrality will inevitably mean a tacit support for the status-quo.

If AMCU stands aside from trying to change the political landscape of the country – and indeed ‘takes no position’ on those who are making the attempt, like the DSM and WASP – they are saying that they are either indifferent to, or, at worse support, the monopoly in parliament of anti-working class parties such as the ANC and the DA. That means guaranteeing a future government that is anti-working class and pro-capitalist. The ‘apolitical’ position of the leadership does not advance the interests of AMCU members one millimetre. How can AMCU remain ‘neutral’ in the 2014 national and provincial elections, coming as they do, less than two years after the ANC’s betrayal at Marikana? Should the ANC politicians be allowed to remain in place unchallenged to carry out another Marikana? Surely, this is not what the AMCU leadership wants.

 

What does Mathunjwa mean by ‘anti-communist’?

At other times, Mathunjwa has described AMCU as ‘anti-communist’. If Mathunjwa is expressing opposition to the South African Communist Party (SACP) then that is laudable. The SACP uses the word “communist” but stands for capitalism, the complete opposite of genuine communism and socialism. DSM however, is worried that what Mathunjwa is expressing is opposition to the ideas of nationalisation and socialism.

Socialism is the generalised expression of working class interests. A socialist society would see the mines, factories, commercial farms, banks and other big businesses taken out of the hands of the capitalist class and brought into democratic public ownership. The economy would be organised on the basis of a democratic plan of production under the control of the working class so that society’s wealth could be used to satisfy the interests and aspirations of all and not just to create profits for a tiny super-rich elite as is the case in today’s capitalist society. Nationalisation is the key first step toward constructing a socialist society. But even before a full socialist society is created, nationalisation is in the interests of mineworkers. In fact, it is central to addressing all the issues that mineworkers face in their struggles today. It is the bosses and shareholders private ownership and the pursuit of profit over all else that leads to retrenchments, poor service delivery and low wages. If workers get more then the bosses get less.

It is necessary to take the mines out of private hands to set about genuinely solving the problems that mineworkers and mining communities face. However the demand for nationalisation on its own is not enough. It must be linked to the demand for workers’ control and management of the mining industry and be understood as a step toward a socialist society. Otherwise nationalisation can be used as window-dressing in a predominantly capitalist economy and individual nationalised industries will be looted by capitalist governments as is the case today with the parastatals.

When Amplats threatened 14,000 retrenchments in January 2013 Mathunjwa went to great lengths to correct the media reports that he had called for the nationalisation of Amplats. Mathunjwa said to the press: “AMCU never called for nationalisation.” But why does Mathunjwa not call for nationalisation? AMCU should be leading calls for nationalisation! We believe AMCU members should be campaigning for AMCU to explicitly adopt a position in favour of nationalisation of the mines on the basis of democratic workers control as a step toward a democratically planned socialist economy. This position expresses the interests of AMCU members and indeed all mineworkers and the working class as a whole. This brings us back to our first criticism. If the AMCU leadership remains politically ‘neutral’ how will nationalisation policies ever be introduced? AMCU must take a clear position for nationalisation and align itself with a pro-nationalisation party.

 

How should AMCU make up its mind?

There is truth to the AMCU leaders’ argument that it is not their place to tell AMCU members who to give their political allegiance to. Yes, the reverse is the case! AMCU members need to tell the AMCU leadership which party they want their union to support. We have already argued that the unity of workers in struggle is crucial. But the maximum unity of the working class on the political plane is also the best way to collectively advance the interests of the working class. The AMCU leadership should not use the present divided political affiliations of their members as an excuse. It is their role to give leadership and attempt to create the maximum political unity amongst their members as possible and support a party that best represents the interests of their members.

The DSM argues for AMCU members to join WASP, and ultimately for AMCU to affiliate to WASP. WASP was born out of the struggles of the mineworkers: it is your party. WASP has a political programme based on the interests of the working class: socialism. WASP wants its candidates to be mineworkers themselves. But this must be the decision of AMCU members. Is it not the right of AMCU members to decide the political position of their union? And is it not the duty of the AMCU leadership to facilitate this decision? AMCU members should petition and pressure the AMCU leadership to organise mass meetings and shop stewards councils where WASP leaders can explain why workers should join WASP and why AMCU should affiliate. Other political parties should be invited if AMCU members demand it. Out of these meetings a vote of all AMCU members should be organised so that a democratic decision can be taken.

The reality is that without an understanding of the alternative to capitalism and the profit motive struggle can only be taken so far. If you accept the logic of capitalism how can you argue against the bosses? That is why it is crucial that AMCU bases itself on the ideas of socialism and has a political answer to the bosses’ lies that they are too ‘poor’ to do anything to improve the mineworkers situation.

 

AMCU’s structures: are the members in control of the union?

Workers have entered AMCU expecting and demanding an entirely different regime to the one they abandoned in NUM. In rejecting NUM, mineworkers were rejecting the corrupt and undemocratic practices of the NUM bureaucracy which was holding back their struggle for better wages and living conditions. Workers were rejecting secret negotiations between NUM officials and the mine bosses. Workers were rejecting corrupt shop stewards whose first loyalty was to the mine bosses rather than the workers. Workers were rejecting NUM’s effective removal from the workers of the decision of when to embark on strike action and the control of industrial action. Workers were rejecting the bureaucratised structures that in effect cut out the democratic input of members.

All this taken together made the NUM an ineffective weapon for the waging of struggle, and, in reality allowed NUM to become a weapon in the hands of the bosses to be used against the workers. Correctly the workers dropped this blunted weapon. But in AMCU, the workers do not yet have a finished tool for the waging of effective struggle. Repairs, upgrades and modifications would be necessary to transform AMCU into the democratic fighting trade union it needs to be to meet the aspirations of the mineworkers. For a union to be able to genuinely represent its members and lead struggle effectively it must be thoroughly democratic and have a structure that allows all members to participate in every aspect of decision making.

AMCU’s rapid growth has undoubtedly left its structures behind. This is understandable and to an extent unavoidable. But it is crucial that the AMCU leadership takes rapid action to develop its structures to match the demands of the situation and the aspirations that mineworkers have invested in AMCU. So far, the AMCU leadership has not taken a clear position nor given a clear lead on this issue.

 

Possible corruption at Impala: a warning to AMCU members

In October 2013 workers at Impala demanded the suspension of the so-called “top 10” shop stewards. These stewards were appointed by the AMCU leadership rather than elected by the workers in a so-called ‘interim’ measure. The workers demand for the suspension of the “top 10” is based on their alleged financial misdemeanours. Workers are justifiably angered by the revelation that the “top-10” receive an additional R5 000 from Impala management (something Impala management freely admits to) and the accusation that a R100 levy of AMCU members to fund legal costs actually went into the pockets of the “top-10” and that they manipulated tenders for kick-backs.

At the time of writing, it is unclear whether the “top 10” have a case to answer. It is also unclear how the AMCU leadership intends to deal with the scandal. But regardless of the answers to these questions we must point out that the AMCU leadership has helped create the situation whereby the stench of corruption can begin to swirl around the union. AMCU has been present at Impala for more than 18 months and has been recognised by Impala management since July 10 2013. At the time of writing, why have four months passed without the AMCU leadership organising an election for the workers to choose their own shop stewards to replace the “top-10” appointees? This should have been organised immediately upon recognition by management making use of the facilities that would have been afforded AMCU by the recognition agreement.

Had this been done this corruption scandal would never have emerged and the damage to AMCU’s reputation would not have been inflicted. Further, Impala management claims that the R5 000 additional allowance for shop stewards was part of the deal with NUM when they were the majority union at Impala. From the corrupt NUM this much we expect! But Impala management allege that the AMCU leadership demanded the same deal when they became the majority union. The AMCU leadership has not yet responded to this claim. But whether this is true or not, the stench of corruption could have been prevented by AMCU having adopted a clear code of conduct for all elected officials to distinguish them clearly from the corrupt practices of the NUM. The AMCU leadership should have been clear from the outset: that there should be no privileges attached to taking up any elected office in AMCU. But they did not do this.

 

Suspicion of the workers independence

In 2012, when the strike wave developed, the independent strike committees that led that dispute emerged and leapt over the heads of the AMCU leadership. Rather than welcoming this development as the final break with NUM by the majority of mineworkers, the AMCU leadership has displayed at best an ambivalent and at worst hostile attitude to the strike committees and the new generation of leaders that emerged with them. In fact it was the strike committees themselves that dragged a reluctant AMCU into the struggle kicking and screaming. This is a bizarre attitude to display given that it was the 2012 strikes and the committees that allowed AMCU to make its breakthrough.

When the strike committees were at the height of their power and influence and the undisputed leaders of the mineworkers the AMCU leadership was forced to tread carefully. But after the strikes ended and as the strike committees succumbed to the inevitable pressure towards disintegration posed by the return to work, the AMCU leadership began to take a more hostile approach. The AMCU leadership started to pose the situation in terms of a choice between independent committees or AMCU rather than seeing the complementary role of the two.

The DSM has always argued for both but Mathunjwa has denounced the independent strike committees as “hyenas in sheep’s clothing” and even called for leaders to be arrested. The AMCU leadership is revealing itself as hostile to the independence of the rank-and-file – a position indistinguishable from that of the bosses and the NUM leadership itself.

At a January 2013 national strike committee meeting AMCU officials attempted to have the national strike committee dissolved alleging it “duplicated AMCU structures” and was therefore unnecessary. When the chairperson refused to hear the motion this group walked out of the meeting. At other mines, AMCU pressured the strike committees to convert themselves into AMCU structures. Those strike committee leaders who did not go along with this were subsequently marginalised.

In most cases, DSM supported workers joining AMCU but added the warning that AMCU was as yet untested. Unfortunately, this comradely position – and the only honest one that could be put – was treated with hostility by the AMCU leadership. DSM members have regularly been treated with suspicion by AMCU officials for our principled defence of the mineworkers’ interests. Unfortunately this suggests that the AMCU leadership, with its decade on the margins and its jealously guarded new position, has a suspicious attitude to the independent activity of its members. If this mistaken attitude of the leadership is allowed to develop unchecked by AMCU members, AMCU will not be able to develop into the democratic and fighting union it needs to be.

 

How can AMCU’s structures be strengthened?

AMCU members must be placed firmly in control of all decisions in AMCU. That means democracy from the shaft level all the way up to the national leadership. It means bringing the structures of AMCU closer to the membership.

Every shaft and shift must elect its own worker shop stewards who will form a shop stewards committee. Every mining operation must have an AMCU branch led by officials elected by the members and recallable by the members. If an operation is particularly large there must be more than one branch. Structures must be as close to the ground and as responsive to the rank-and-file as possible. Regional structures must be developed in the Rustenburg platinum belt, the Gauteng goldfields, Witbank and elsewhere with offices staffed by elected officials from the area.

Shop stewards and other officials must receive no privileges for holding office. In industrial disputes mass meetings of the membership must be convened to discuss the dispute and give democratic mandates to the leadership on the direction of the dispute if necessary electing strike committees to work with the leadership in running the dispute.

The DSM proposes the following programme for AMCU members to base themselves upon to ensure AMCU becomes a democratic fighting union committed to solidarity, struggle and socialism.

Democracy & structures

  • No to self-enrichment and privileges for leadership. Shop stewards and union officials to earn the same wages as workers.
  • Open, regular and democratic elections of all union officials from ordinary shop stewards to the national leadership. Election of national leadership at least every two to three years. All officials to be subject to recall through a vote of no confidence. Every elected official must account through regular general workers meetings at shaft level and regional and national conferences. Workers must be able to immediately remove officials failing to represent their interests or account to them.
  • For annual national conferences to decide on policy matters, report on collective bargaining and membership services and all other aspects of the union’s work.
  • Election of democratic branch and regional structures in every major mining area e.g. Rustenburg, Northam, Steelpoort, Burgersfort, Witbank, Carletonville, etc. through annual general meetings of members and regional conferences of elected workers’ delegates from the shafts.
  • Workers Control. Nothing that affects workers must be done without workers. No meetings between union officials and the bosses without the knowledge and presence of workers representatives. A minimum of monthly shop-stewards reports to general workers meetings. Key decisions to be left to mass meetings of workers e.g. concerning wage negotiations and strike actions including wage settlements and when to begin and end strikes.

Working class unity and political representation

  • For a united front of all workers, including NUM members, through joint strikes and campaigns around common demands and a common programme of action. Isolate the NUM leaders and expose their lies, corruption and their unwillingness to seriously fight for the workers.
  • Build the Socialist Trade Union Network to create a rank-and-file network across the mining industry of AMCU members, shop stewards, officials and genuine NUM members wanting to fight for the interests of all mineworkers. Networks to link with workers and trade unionists in other unions and industries in solidarity and common action.
  • Prepare a serious struggle and programme of action to win a R12 500 monthly minimum wage. Unite the entire mining industry through a programme of rolling mass action. Mobilising the mining communities and youth in all mining areas in active support of the demand by linking the mining communities’ demands around service delivery to the mineworkers’ wage demands. Call for the formation of support groups across the country in all workplaces and working class communities. Call for the solidarity of the entire working class in national demonstrations, solidarity strikes and ultimately a general strike to force the mine bosses to concede.
  • Unity of purpose, solidarity in action and internationalism. AMCU to support every struggle in the mining industry and every struggle by workers in other industries, in the country and internationally. AMCU to support the struggles of communities and youth for service delivery housing, jobs, education, water, electricity, roads and public transport, etc.
  • AMCU to adopt the demand the nationalisation of the mines on the basis of democratic workers control and management as a step towards a democratically planned socialist society.
  • Support the Workers and Socialist Party as the party of the mineworkers uniting with working class communities and youth. Organise mass meetings of AMCU members to debate the question of political affiliation and take a democratic decision.