Johannesburg - Mining companies fanned the conflict that led to the killings at Lonmin's Marikana mine in North West, the tripartite alliance said on Friday.
“It is... our considered view that employers have an interest in fanning this conflict to reverse the gains achieved by workers over a long period of time,” the alliance said in a joint statement.
The alliance comprises the ruling African National Congress, the SA Communist Party, and the Congress of SA Trade Unions.
The alliance secretariat met on Thursday to discuss the ongoing Lonmin wildcat strike and the killing of 34 people at Marikana on August 16. Ten others were killed in the preceding week.
The alliance was briefed by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on the build-up to August 16, and the events that have followed since then.
“Up till now, not sufficient information has been in the public domain about the role of the various companies and employers in the area in fanning up conflict between the unions and thus, conflict among the workers themselves,” the alliance said.
It said the situation at Lonmin could not be isolated from an illegal strike at Impala Platinum in January and February this year.
The Lonmin situation also had to be understood in the context of a strike at the mine a few months ago.
“During the last strike, the workforce was dismissed and selectively re-employed on lesser conditions than before the strike,” the alliance said.
It was incorrect to see the conflict in terms of rivalry between the NUM and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) or to understand it in terms of an authoritarian state.
“This labelling of both the NUM and the state is part of a broader theme of delegitimising (sic) the liberation movement in its broad sense.”
The alliance warned that agitating workers and giving them false promises was dangerous and could take a long time to correct.
It reaffirmed its support for the Judicial Commission of Inquiry appointed by President Jacob Zuma to investigate the Marikana
“We are confident that the Commission of Inquiry will dig deep into all these aspects of the conflict and we took note of the double-talk by the opposition parties, who in the past have consistently condemned Cosatu unions for demanding high wage increases, and all of a sudden condemn the same unions for low wages and bad conditions.”
Workers at the world's third-largest platinum producer have been on strike for more than three weeks, demanding a monthly salary of R12 500. - Sapa