The inquiry [announced by Zuma]should, amongst other things, build on the 167-page report from the church-sponsored Bench Marks Foundation, “Communities in the Platinum Minefields”, which was coincidentally released last week. The report paints a grim picture of how all the major platinum mining corporations have made billions of rands out of the world`s richest platinum deposits in the Bojanala District of the North West province, while leaving a trail of misery, death, poverty, illness, and environmental pollution in the surrounding communities. The report finds that Lonmin`s operations at Marikana, for instance, “include high levels of fatalities” and that the “residential conditions under which Lonmin…employees live are appalling.” The report further attributes the high level of fatalities at Lonmin and other platinum company mines in the district to the extensive use of sub-contracted labour (nearly one-third of the work-force in the case of Lonmin`s Marikana operations). “Sub-contracted labour is usually poorly paid, poorly trained and educated, and poorly accommodated”, the report notes, and adds: “Therefore sub-contracted workers compromise the health and safety of other workers.”

Importantly, the report points out that the practice of sub-contracting by the mining houses dates back to the immediate post-1994 period as a cost-cutting measure and an attempt to “break the power of NUM” (p.36), to undercut the collective bargaining rights that the organized working class had finally achieved after decades of struggle. Furthermore, the report notes that the expanded use of sub-contracted labourers from other localities, including from the Eastern Cape, has created community tensions between “insiders” and “outsiders”. Last year, for instance, there were violent protests from local community, unemployed youth in Marikana, angry that jobs on the mines were being provided to “outsiders”.

From Portugal PCP and the Union CGTP-In address their statements here and here

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