The South African Federation of Trade Union sends a message of solidarity to the 91 sacked mine workers who are still fighting for their reinstatement five years after they were dismissed following a strike and sit-in at Kumba Iron Ore’s Sishen mine in the Northern Cape in 2012.
In particular the federation sends its best wishes for the workers on Thursday 12 October when the Labour Court will give its judgement on the workers’ application for leave to appeal to the Labour Appeal Court to overturn against a Labour Court judgement on 30 June 2017 to dismiss their case for reinstatement.
After a strike in 2012, Kumba, part of the giant Anglo-American monolith, dismissed 208 workers for “participating in an unprotected strike”. The National Union of Mineworkers opened a case for their reinstatement but dragged their feet and tried to reach a deal with the company, which led to the reinstatement of 90 workers but not the remaining 118, a move which was clearly an attempt at ‘divide and rule’.
For the next five years 91 of these 118 workers have never stopped fighting for their jobs.
SAFTU has pledged its support in the fight to win this appeal, while warning however that important though the courts are, they cannot be relied on to rule against powerful employers. Like all workers’ battles this fight will ultimately be won through mass action on the streets.
The Kumba workers will have been encouraged by the recent historic victory of the Midrand Municipal workers who have just won their marathon 23-year battle for reinstatement by Johannesburg Metropolitan Council after they were dismissed for exposing corruption in the then Midrand Municipality.
Working-class solidarity is not simply a fine idea, but an absolutely essential weapon for workers, especially at a time like now when a job-loss bloodbath is hitting workers in the mines, farms, factories, supermarkets and even the banks. As a result more and more families are being driven into a life of poverty.
This soaring level of unemployment has encouraged many employers to think they now have the upper hand and can dismiss workers at will, knowing their are thousands of others who are desperate for work.
SAFTU was launched in April this year by workers who decided that enough was enough and that we had to stop the slide into mass unemployment, super-exploitation and wage slavery. We are committed to battle to save every job and fight for the reinstatement of all workers who have been unfairly dismissed.
SAFTU urges all its affiliates and members to come to the Labour Court, in Juta Street (cnr Melle), Braamfontein, at 9h00 on Thursday 12 October to show their support and encouragement for the brave Kumba 91 strikers who are fighting for their right to appeal for justice.
Viva the Kumba 91 Viva!