Platinum Mine Violence Blamed On Union Rivalry
The miners earned between $300 and $500 a month and wanted that raised to $1,500.
It came as no surprise that their multi-national employer, Lonmin, said no to the whopping increase. The world’s third largest producer of platinum said the strike was illegal.
The larger problem, however, went beyond a wage dispute.
It had to do with a vicious rivalry between two unions — the dominant and established National Union of Mineworkers and the splinter Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union which has been encroaching on the former’s role.
The National Union of Mineworkers is a close ally of the country’s ruling African National Congress. The miners, according to several South African media outlets, feel they are not adequately represented by the battling unions. They say politics gets in the way and that each union vies for miners’ support and yet they don’t always seek their best interests.
In January, at least three people were killed during a strike at the world’s second-largest platinum mine, Impala Platinum. The violence there, too, was also blamed on union rivalry.