It will not be business as usual on 20 March 2018 when the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) takes to the streets around the country to renew the call for government to put workers’ interests first.

More than 50 000 AMCU members will march to the Union Buildings and the offices of the Department of Mineral Resources in Welkom, Durban and Polokwane to deliver memoranda that draw to attention the state of the economy, workers’ plight and the poor safety record in mines among a myriad of other critical issues that the Union is calling attention to.

Stop the slaughter

Workers in the mining and other sectors continue to pay with their health and lives in the name of maximum production and maximum profit. The year 2018 has been off to a tragic start for workers. February started with the power cut that left more than one thousand workers trapped underground for one night at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Beatrix Mine in Welkom in Free State, while four more workers perished at two other operations by Sibyane-Stillwater. The Chamber of Mines has confirmed in some reports that 14 mineworkers have died since the beginning of 2018. Meanwhile, AMCU has called for a Mine Health and Safety Summit to address the regulatory shortcomings that contribute to our mines turning into death traps for workers.

Stop job losses

According to Statistics South Africa, “Mining as a whole is still an important player in the South African economy. The industry contributes R8 for every R100 produced by the national economy5 and employs one in every 40 working individuals (or 2,5% of the entire workforce)”, yet there is a jobs bloodbath that’s continuing unabated. The Labour Quarter Survey reports that more than 35 000 jobs were lost in the mining sector between October and December in 2017. More job losses are expected in 2018. AMCU is on record as saying economic decisions must benefit society at large. For instance, the gold price has been very high in the past few years. However, returns on our export capacity have been affected by our current account trade deficit. This is because we import more than we export. Our companies choose import equipment and spares, rather than encouraging industrialisation and local beneficiation. These structural challenges, which were left unattended by our government, are affecting employment security as companies spend externally and create markets for other countries’ products, thereby exporting jobs.

Our land, our economy, our way

The myriad of issues facing workers will form part of the memorandum that AMCU will deliver to President Cyril Ramaphosa on 20 March. Through the memorandum, the Union is asserting the founding principle that states, “the quest for truth and justice shall you free.”

South Africa’s democracy is turning 24 years old on 27 April 2018: it’s time workers and communities taste the fruits of the freedom that has only benefitted the political elite and foreign investors.

Make your stand. Join AMCU at the national shutdown at the following venues:

Pretoria: From Burgers Park to Union Buildings

Welkom: From Toyota Circle to DMR offices

Durban: From City Hall to DMR office

Polokwane: From corner of Landdros Mare and Hospitaal Streets to DMR office