Marikana in spotlight at Labour summit

File picture: Steven Friedman. Picture by Mashabela Seshoka.

File picture: Steven Friedman. Picture by Mashabela Seshoka.

Efficient communication was not done to analyse the causes of the Marikana revolt, political analyst Steven Friedman said on Tuesday.

“Look at what happened after the killings at Marikana last year. One of the many scandals of what happened at Marikana was the conditions in which the workers were living,” he told the third biennial labour relations conference hosted by the Public Service Commission in Pretoria.

“When people tried to engage in discussion [after the shootings]… business said it was all local government’s fault and local government said it was business’s fault.” Everyone was pointing fingers at everyone else.

He said that after the blame-game the problems bedeviling the mineworkers, including lack of accommodation and a filthy environment, were left unattended. “It is quite obvious that if those problems were not faced, then they were not dealt with.”

He said major problems in South Africa, including inequality and poverty, were centred on race. He said his opinion was based on factual findings of research conducted by a number of universities.

“One of the findings indicates that race is still important out there. If you are a black graduate… it will take you three to six months longer to find a job than if you are a white graduate with the same qualification.”

Earlier, Congress of SA Trade Unions president Sidumo Dlamini told the gathering that vigilantism had crept into wage-related protests.

“We have come to… a new dangerous form of cohesion where concepts of vigilantism have found space: ‘You are either with us or against us. We will kill you if you are not with us’,” he said.

“Everybody seems to be saying that is the way to get employers to understand the language you are talking.” Labour relations management had been relatively sound in the public sector. “We can’t compare [public sector strikes with] the recent strike between Lonmin at Marikana and those workers,” he said.

The Pretoria conference, hosted in partnership with the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council, was planned in anticipation of the International Labour and Employment Relations Association World Congress in 2015.


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