By Wednesday the 15th of August, mine management asked the police to take full charge, and the rest has become part of South Africa’s unholy history of tragedy.
So ‘uniformed’ are these mineworkers that they apparently either have no regard for due industrial process or they are not even aware of it. How could they even imagine that they could negotiate with management without the involvement of the National Union of Mine Workers (NUM)? Consider the ‘unreasonable’ demand for a 300% rise from R4000 (less than $400) a month to R12500 a month! Which mine boss in their right minds would want to pay a mere rock driller such a lot of money!
All these insinuations and innuendos are part of the subtle justification for the massacre and refusal to regard their demands as reasonable. Who could reason/negotiate with such an uneducated, unreasonable, unthinking, gullible, armed and dangerous lot? Unleashing live ammunition on them was, as the police commissioner said, the best that our disciplined police could do to deal with the marauding hordes of dangerous miners!
The disdain with which mine workers in general and the rock drillers in particular are held showed in the way they were spoken about, portrayed and treated throughout the week. And yet we all act surprised that these miners are so angry and so untrusting of management, trade union leaders, police and politicians alike.
If the workers are human, government will engage in more than the knee-jerk, poorly thought-out proliferation of publicity stunts aimed at appeasement of investors and mineworkers as well as the saving of face. If they are human, perhaps Lonmin might just realise that expectations of an improved wage, better working and living conditions might just be valid and even reasonable.
(c) copyright tinyiko sam maluleke