The strike wave started at the Lonmin platinum mine where mine workers were massacred by police has grown to involve approx. 75,000 mine workers in the Rustenberg region of South Africa.
The strike wave has now engulfed platinum, gold and chrome mines in the region. In response to three weeks of strike action by mine workers Anglo-american Platinum announced today that it was sacking 12,000 striking workers.
On Tuesday the Goldfields mining company eviced 5,000 striking miners from their dormatory hostels in an attempt to break the strike.
Attempts by heavily armed police to arrest striking miners at Mooinooi on Tuesday were frustrated by the organising actions of the Democratic Socialist Movement (sister party of the Socialist Party) who prevented arrests taking place and engaged in solidarity activities with striking miners. The DSM have played a prominent role in establishing inter-mine workers committees who are coordinating the strike of the Rustenberg miners. Strike leaders at the Amplats mine have stated "We have been under pressure for years because the NUM didn't want to represent us. The movement uniting us now is the Democratic Socialist Movement. The strike committees want a union that is independent, that will be worker-controlled and not under the umbrella of Cosatu or the ANC."
The police and the mines private security thugs have continued to attempt to break the strikes regularly firing rubber bullets, tear gas, stun grenades and occasionally live rounds into protests fo striking miners. As late as yesterday another worker was shot dead by police in Rustenberg and today a miner died after being hit by a rubber bullet.
The strike wave has now started to spread to industries outside the mining sector. This week workers at the Toyota plant in Durban went on strike.
The massacre at Lonmin and the subsequent massive strike wave is sending shockwaves through the ANC government. The strikers are receiving massive support among the South African working class and the government with its triumvirate backers in COSATU and the SA Communist Party are facing the potential of a general strike that could bring down the regime.
Workers at the Lonmin mine returned to work last week after receiving significant pay increases and are now continuing organising an independent trade union and actively supporting other striking miners in the region. Other mining companies have also conceded to significant pay demands rather than face strike action.