Aurora workers let down by union leaders PDF Print E-mail
Trade Unions and Socialism - Trade Unions and Socialism
Sunday, 01 May 2011 09:05

Aurora workers let down by union leaders

Thousands of workers at the Grootvlei and Orkey gold mines have not been paid
since February 2010 and are now owed more than R12million by Black Economic
Empowerment (BEE) company Aurora Empowerment Systems. Aurora took over
management of the mines in 2009 when the previous owner Pamodzi Gold was placed
under liquidation. Aurora is owned by Zondwa Mandela (Nelson Mandela’s grandson),
Khulubuse Zuma (President Zuma’s nephew) and Michael Hulley (President Zuma’s
attorney who represented him in the corruption and rape trials). The unions organising
at the two mines, the National Union of Mine Workers (NUM) and Solidarity, have also
accused Aurora of asset-stripping. The new owners have also completely disregarded
environmental regulations, allowing heavily contaminated water to flow straight into
sensitive wetlands.

While Khulubuse Zuma, known for his extravagant life of luxury which includes a fleet
of 19 top-of-the range cars, made a R1-million donation to the ANC on April 8, the
union leaders have failed to mobilise the workers, who enjoy massive public sympathy,
in a campaign to have these parasitic bosses thrown out once and for all. On the same
day, Solidarity revealed that one of the workers had committed suicide. While the union
leaders have left the workers to despair and wait for food parcels, they have gone on their
knees begging the capitalists for a saviour.

Since 2009, a string of prospective international buyers have figured in the media, the
latest being Chinese-owned multinational mining company Shangdong Gold. So far all
have disappointed. Even if a successful sale is carried through, it holds no guarantees for
the workers’ jobs and wage claims.

Instead of organising a community-based solidarity campaign, the NUM has begged the
ANC to return the donation to Khulubuse and to hand the money to the workers. The
ANC’s arrogant response was they had no obligation to do so. Let the workers eat sushi
you could almost hear them say! The obvious response should be a mass campaign for
the nationalisation under workers’ control and management of these mines. The failure
of the NUM to even raise, let alone mobilise around, this demand is one of the most
concrete signs yet of the deadly danger posed to the workers’ movement by the Cosatu
unions’ alliance with the African National Congress; all the more tragic as the Aurora
case itself exposes the pro-capitalist character of the ruling party beyond all doubt.

 

Workers & Socialist Party

Committee for a Workers' International

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