(Warning: Video contains graphic material.)
Thirty-four miners were killed and 78 injured yesterday in the shooting shown above. Police opened fire on miners who were striking at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana. The Los Angeles Times explains:
Protests are common in South Africa and often turn violent. Most are not about political freedom; they are more often a cry for a better life from poor, uneducated people living bleak, desperate lives with almost no hope of improvement.
South Africa’s townships and shantytowns see frequent protests over the government’s failure to deliver decent services – while a series of protests at mines have focused on better wages and conditions.
Many of the striking miners are rock drillers, one of the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs underground, earning $500 a week.Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa issued a statement on the killings. He said, in part,
The Teamsters Union condemns all violence between police and striking workers at the Marikana platinum mine and offers our condolences to the family and friends of those killed and injured.
Desmond Tutu, the South African activist and bishop, Nobel Peace Prize winner and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, famously said, “A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons.”
All too often, workers are not recognized as humans by their employers but rather regarded as expendable objects. The struggles of these striking miners are the struggles that working people face worldwide.
The Teamsters Union demands that Lonmin, the UK-based mining company that owns Marikana, take responsibility for their role in the strike and subsequent loss of life. It is incumbent upon them to restore calm and safety by treating workers as people, not expendable objects.
The Teamsters Union stands in solidarity with the South African labor movement at this difficult juncture.Read the whole statement here.