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The mining industry strike wave: What are the causes and solutions? (October 2012)

9th October 2012


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The most visible feature of the commentary to date on the events surrounding the mining strike wave is the lack of any analysis as to the economic and socio-political drivers that created an environment where miners, first at Implats and subsequently across the platinum, chrome, diamonds and gold sectors, engaged in unprocedural strike action, left the majority union in droves - collapsing established collective bargaining institutions, agreements and norms in the process.

Early commentary by the role players and the press focussed the causes of the industrial action by fingering third parties: a minority start-up union (AMCU), disaffected NUM minorities, muti-men and sangomas all came under fire. Later commentary has focussed on the appalling housing conditions of the migrant miners and the gross inequality, poverty and unemployment that grips our country in a suffocating stranglehold. These comments, though accurate, amount to nothing but a series of catch all phrases that really tell us nothing new or insightful. In any event no-one has sought to analyse the socio-economic drivers of the crisis, the process through which these driving forces have matured post-apartheid and the institutional failures that underpinned the crisis. With regard to real, strategic solutions for the mining industry, there is to date, sadly a deafening silence.


This paper is written by Gavin Hartford who is employed by The Esop Shop and is an industry strategy consultant. His contact details are: email at or call at 0829031725

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