Twickenham mine: workers and communities must unite

The Workers and Socialist Party believes the clashes between police and community members in Burgersfort, Limpopo, outside Amplats’ Twickenham mine is the direct result of the retrenchment policies being carried out by the mine bosses. As such the mine bosses are directly responsible.

Demanding job creation from the mining giants is an entirely legitimate demand for communities to raise and WASP supports this demand. Community members have protested about the lack of jobs at Twickenham going to local people, where, as across the country, unemployment is a severe and burning issue. Having deliberately disregarded demands for jobs from local communities the mining companies have cynically created the basis for conflict between workers redeployed there from other areas and the local community.

The protests in Burgersfort were sparked by the redeployment of 170 workers to Amplats’ Twickenham operation from Rustenburg. These workers are some of the 1,600 workers that have kept their jobs by acceding to redeployment out of an original proposal by Amplats to retrench 6,900. The other 5,300 workers were not so ‘lucky’ and will soon be on the scrap heap.

But WASP argues that only the unity of workers and communities, of those with jobs and those who are unemployed, can secure jobs for all and decent pay and conditions.

The mining bosses are attempting to play divide and rule and sow divisions between workers and the unemployed in the communities. The redeployment “offer” for a minority of the 6,900 was an example of this to begin with. By requiring the 6,900 to reapply for their jobs the Amplats bosses were attempting to head off a united response of the workers and introduce individual competition amongst them. Unfortunately, the Amcu leadership, neither the so-called task teams in Rustenburg, clearly rejected this.

Now the consequences are being felt in Twickenham in the anger of the community to what they perceive as their exclusion from job opportunities. Nonetheless, only unity can begin to address the issues of unemployment in Burgersfort. The community and the workers at Twickenham – including the 170 redeployed workers and those whether they were born in this country or not – must form a joint campaign demanding job creation for all those in the area who wish to work.

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