‘Little has changed since Marikana’

2014-11-18 13:19
Striking Lonmin mineworkers in Marikana (File, AFP)

Striking Lonmin mineworkers in Marikana (File, AFP)

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Johannesburg - Very little has changed in the mining industry since the events at Marikana in August 2012, Bench Marks Foundation executive director John Capel said on Tuesday.

"It is clear that the dignity and needs of the workers and communities are still not a priority for these sectors as well as for the government. Very little has changed since August 2012," he told a foundation conference on the theme "Enough is Enough: Change Now".

Topics discussed included "Labour and community relations post-Marikana: What has changed since and what are the plans for the future?" and "Levelling the playing fields -- recourse to justice for communities".

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police, more than 70 were wounded, and 250 were arrested near Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, North West, on 16 August 2012.

The police were apparently trying to disarm and disperse them.

Greater co-operation

In the preceding week, 10 people, including the two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed in strike-related violence in the area.

Capel said trade unions and companies needed to co-operate to a greater extent.

"Private companies must start to realise that their actions have a huge impact not only on the economy, but also on the communities and environment.

"They must adhere to legislation and they must start to realise that communities and workers are very important stakeholders and must therefore be included on all decisions regarding their land, air, and environment.

"Why haven't we learnt that poor working and living conditions trigger frustrations and violence?"

Going beyond legislation

Capel said South Africa should follow Germany's example in promoting sustainable development and working with the private sector in developing skills, conserving water, and supporting value chain development for poor communities.

"Not much will change in this sector until companies and the government foster the real meaning of corporate social responsibility, which is to assess and take responsibility for the company's (and government's) effects on the environment and impact on social welfare," he said.

"They need to go beyond what is expected or legislated."

The Bench Marks Foundation is a non-governmental organisation mandated by churches to monitor multi-national corporations.

Represented by the Legal Resource Centre, it was a party to the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the deaths at Marikana, which concluded its public hearings on Friday.

Read more on:    lonmin  |  marikana inquiry

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