About a month ago two capitalist think tanks, the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) and Business Leadership South Africa boastfully released an atrocious blueprint on how to create ‘five million jobs’ in five years to disguise their intended onslaught on workers rights. These think tanks made four ‘proposals’ the gist of which amount to intensification of strangling of workers rights. They argue for more deregulation and business friendly policies in a ploy to extract maximum profit at the expense of the poor African working class masses. Their atrocious ‘proposals’ calls for exemptions from laws on hiring and firing, so much for job creation, to employers hiring first-time young employees and general exemptions on basic labour, health and safety laws.
Just less than a week ago workers died in Gold Fields’ Driefontein mine in Carltonville, west of Gauteng province. This was a second fatal incident in a month in this mine in which a total of four workers lost their dear lives. An average of more than 200 workers dies in mines whereas more than 5000 are severely injured each year resulting in serious physical disability. This year alone 80 workers have died already leaving behind destitute families with no bread winners.
A recent government mine safety audit scored mining companies an average of 66% compliance which is disputed by workers who face daily life and death dangers in the underground of South Africa’s mine. Workers are not involved in these audits. Only managers participate in these audits and provide false information which does not paint a true picture of health and safety hazards facing underground workers in mines each time they go underground.
These proponents of strangulation of workers rights from CDE and Business Leadership South Africa include nationalist petty bourgeoisie class elements such as Neva MaKgetla (former Economic Adviser of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Pravin Gordon (Minister of Finance of the Republic of South Africa) and James Motlatsi (former charterist Trade Unionist).
As would be expected, CDE is funded by multinational mining capitalist entities with vast mining exploitative profiteering interests, like Anglo-American Chairman’s Fund, De Beers Fund, and The Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust. On the other hand members of Business Leadership South Africa include South Africa’s neo-colonial capitalist corporations and major multinational companies such as Absa, Anglo American, African Rainbow Minerals, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and British American Tobacco. It is clear that these think tanks of capitalism are engaged in a dangerous self serving excise which has nothing to do with job creation, economic development and eradication of poverty.
This campaign to sacrifice limb and life of workers on the altar of capitalist profiteering has tacit endorsement of the ruling African National Congress, the government and the unions, who did not lift a finger in defense of workers. The deafening silence of workers unions brings to question their commitment to the working class struggle. Revolutionary organizations of the poor African working class masses must actively challenge these and other criminal campaigns against workers. One death or injury to a mine worker is one too many.