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Marikana: A lesson in late liberal democracy

Thirty-four miners were shot dead by police at a mine outside Rustenburg, South Africa last week. The 3000 rock-drill operators, from a Lonmin owned platinum company, had been gathered on a hill for four days, demanding a wage increase from recalcitrant owners. Heinrich Böhmke, 22 August 2012            (originally in Africa Report) The leaders belonged to Amcu, a militant breakaway from the Cosatu-aligned National Union of Mineworkers.  In the days before the massacre, ten people were killed in skirmishes, including two police officers and a NUM shopsteward.  Police gave a final ultimatum for the workers, carrying pangas and spears, to disperse.  They refused.  Television footage showed a group of approaching workers sprayed with automatic weapon fire by police.  They fell in heaps upon the ground.

Limits to managerial prerogative

You are a union organiser preparing for a strike at a tyre manufacturer.  The dispute concerns shift patterns, which the employer has unilaterally changed.  Although the total number of hours worked each week remains the same, the difference between the old and new shift patterns is significant.  Workers who never worked weekends must now do Saturday and Sunday shifts every so often.  The beneficial, four-day long weekend that came up during the old shift cycle is also gone.  The way workers have run their lives for years is overturned.  Church, sport and the long-weekend visits of many to their family in the rural areas are disrupted.    They are angry.

Liquidation, A Stilfontein Story (2005)

A documentary about the devastating economic ripple effected by the closure of the DRD gold mine in the town of Stilfontein in South Africa. Abandoned by their employers and the government, the unions and local residents came together to avert a food crisis. Produced by Heinrich Böhmke of Xalanga Peak Productions. Co directed by Aoibheann O’Sullivan and Heinrich Böhmke. Music: “Skeleton Coast” courtesy of Nibs Van der Spuy, from the album “Lines of my Face” © 1999 Greenhouse Music “Hoekom” courtesy of Disselblom, from the album “Goud en Marog” © 2004 Geblikte Afrikaans. Additional Stills: Reint Dykema Links on youtube: Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eaA9DUvef0 Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruCS4j9CC1E Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvwMFDejPxY