Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

22 January 2014

South Africa: Platinum Strikes - to Amcu It's About More Than Just the Money

analysis

Around 80,000 workers will down tools on Thursday at the world's three top platinum producers. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) president Joseph Mathunjwa wants to fight an unjust system. Employers want to save their profits. Will we see strikes like those of 2012?

Every year, there's another pay dispute in the mining industry. They come around so often, it's hard to remember whether members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) want 10% in the gold sector or AMCU wants R12,500 in platinum.

For Joseph Mathunjwa, it's a fight against the system. Black workers are still being paid according to the framework that existed under Jan Smuts and Hendrik Verwoerd, says the AMCU president over the phone before another looming strike in the platinum sector. Profits are flown overseas while local workers are struggling to beat the poverty line, he says. "It has to change. It cannot continue this way."

AMCU members will embark on a protected strike at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats), and Lonmin on Thursday for the elusive "living wage". The union's immediate goals are measurable - percentages, allowances and monthly salaries. But its all part of the real...

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