AMCU marches to the Minerals Council
22 January 2019
Today, hundreds of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) members marched to the Minerals Resources to hand over a memorandum raising their unhappiness about how mining companies continue to use the apartheid structure because the salaries of black people have not changed since the dawn of democracy.
AMCU members from the Sibanye Gold operation and Sibanye Platinum operations, whom despite the scotching sun came out in numbers and marched down Marshall Street in the Johannesburg CBD where President Joseph Mathunjwa addressed them before handing over a memorandum to the Minerals Council. The memorandum was received by the Minerals Council CEO, Roger Baxter.
When addressing members, President Mathunjwa said the government continues to fail the people of this country. “In South Africa the life of a black man is cheap, they will kill you and replace you with their own children. Lonmin continues to kill our comrades every year but no one is ever held accountable. We are not here to fight with government or the police but to fight with those who control our minerals. The people our government is afraid to deal with. We are here to deal with Froneman, whom everyone in South Africa is scared of,” said Mathunjwa.
He said, in 2018, 23 bread winners were killed by Sibanye, but the Minerals Council did nothing. No manager was dismissed or called for disciplinary, it was business as usual for Sibanye. “We continue being exploited and oppressed. Froneman and his ten men cabal share R151 million among themselves. 1994 didn’t bring democracy, it just allowed oppression to happen under democracy. We are not independent as black people. The rich continue being rich while the poor continue to live in atrocious circumstances. Why is this government allowing black people to remain oppressed, so many years after democracy? The current wages of mine workers are not living wages but supplementary wages which still follow the apartheid structure. It is shocking that in 2019, there are still mineworkers in the gold sector who earn a mere R7000 a month,” Mathunjwa continued.
Sibanye has paid around R7 million since the strike commenced on 21 November 2018, to pay security to disrupt our strike. They could have used that money to settle this wage dispute, but they chose to waste that money on security.
“The Minerals Council is toothless, it continues to work for the oppressors. They are the ones who continue to support mines that exploit mineworkers. As black people, if we don’t stand up and fight against the oppression and exploitation that continues to this day; the next generation will continue to suffer under the same conditions. We need to shape our minds in order to change the situation. We are here to tell Minerals Council to deal with Sibanye. During the wage negotiations, we picked up many discrepancies. We noticed that 2% was given to unions like Solidarity and NUM to run their offices. Why should a union be given money to run its offices? The only reason they get that money is because they sell out the workers,” he said.
Mathunjwa said it was unacceptable that everyone can come to South Africa and be given a mining certificate. Mantashe would rather give mining certificates to foreigners than give South African mineworkers the rights to own our mines. He added that mineworkers deserve more than what the ANC government is giving them. “South Africans own these minerals not the Fronemans of this world. South African government also needs to change the education system in order for young people to learn how to run the mines,” he said.
Mathunjwa also spoke about the AMCU members who have been killed by NUM members since the strike started on 21 November 2018. “Our members have been killed, shot at and assaulted by Sibanye security and NUM members but no arrests have been made. Our members were assaulted in full view of Sibanye security personnel, but to this day, the police have not arrested anyone even though cases were opened, and statements made. Houses of our leaders have been targeted by SAPS. Their houses have been vandalised. Our comrades have been arrested without evidence, but nothing has been done. Our strike is protected by the laws of this country,” said Mathunjwa.
He condemned NUM for selling out mineworkers, saying NUM should not be calling itself a union because its leaders are only looking after their own interests. “This is the reason why all these violent incidents are associated with AMCU; its because NUM is in bed with Sibanye and the Minerals Council. We are saying, enough is enough. AMCU demands economic emancipation, we demand humane economy and we demand that the exorbitant salaries paid to mine bosses be capped,” he said.
Mathunjwa said if the Minerals Council does not respond in 48 hours, there is going to be a total shutdown as AMCU will organise a strike in the platinum sector. “Deal with Froneman because he is not the Alpha and Omega of the mines. If this strike cannot be solved, we are going to the FNB stadium and we will shut this country down as we demand what is rightfully ours. We will call the ANC government to account because they need to answer as to why they continue to allow this oppression.