A valiant South African miners’ strike

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A heroic strike by South African platinum miners in Marikana won wage increases of up to 22 percent on Sept. 18. Other miners inspired by the fight continue on strike.

The radical independent union leading the fight challenged both the African National Congress (ANC) government and the officially recognized miners union. The work stoppage, which began six weeks ago, also spread to four more platinum and a gold mine.

The union demanded sharp wage increases and better conditions, and called for a nationwide miners strike hitting much of the world’s platinum supply, and a strategic sector of the South African economy.

Undeterred by public outrage over a police massacre of 34 people on Aug. 16, the ANC justice minister vowed to stop “illegal gatherings.” Police also dispersed demonstrators with tear gas and raided their homes.

Many were stunned by the actions of the ANC, which led the movement that ended apartheid 18 years ago. But while the ANC banned racial segregation, they did not overturn the capitalist system and its vicious exploitation of the Black majority. So now from their government and corporate boardrooms, ANC leaders unleash repression on those fighting persistent poverty.

Meanwhile the miners are unbowed and unbroken, and those still on strike are much in need of international solidarity.

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