The Platinum Strike, BEE and the Future of Worker Struggles
This article was first published online here: http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/2022
The platinum strike, which began on the 23rd of January, has become a showdown between bosses, the media and the state on one side, and platinum mineworkers on the other. In fact, capitalists, top state officials and ANC politicians (the ruling class) have been doing everything to break the strike because they recognise its significance. The current strike, along with the wildcat strikes of two years ago, is an extremely important political event and its outcome, depending who gains the upper hand, is likely to shape the prospects of working class struggle and wage relations for the foreseeable future.
A rich sector
One reason why the platinum strike is so significant is due to the importance of the industry. Over the last 20 years the platinum industry has expanded massively and it has surpassed gold as the most important productive sector in the economy.
The big three platinum companies in South Africa – Anglo Platinum, Lonmin, and Impala – between them also control a very large part of the global platinum industry. Indeed, 87% of the world’s platinum reserves are in South Africa and the bulk of these are under the control of AngloPlatinum, Lonmin, and Impala. This means that these companies have the ability to influence the global platinum price and through this perhaps continue to shape the look of the South African economy for decades to come.