Peacekeeping Forces Could Be Deployed To Mining Strike Zones

Peacekeeping Forces Could Be Deployed To Mining Strike Zones

From The Guardian.

Peacekeepers are usually associated with war zones, but shootings at South Africa’s Lonmin platinum mine Monday prompted the South African government to consider sending a peacekeeping force to the area.

A union leader died Monday, the same day Glencore Xstrata announced it had fired 1,000 workers at three chrome mines for striking illegally.

An 18-month labor dispute throughout South Africa’s mining industry marked by a vicious union turf war has coincided with a global decline in commodity prices to destabilize a sector that has shaped South Africa’s history and economy, according to a report in The Guardian.

Strikes turned violent at platinum mines in August, where 34 miners were killed.

“If there is a need to deploy that peacekeeping force, we have to do so in the mining sector as a whole,” said the labor minister, Mildred Oliphant.

This isn’t the first time mining has been beset with strikes. Strikes in the gold mines in the 1980s caused turmoil. Nineteen years after the end of white minority rule, workers’ frustrations and expectations are higher than ever, the report says.

Downsizing of the mining sector is inevitable, said Moeletsi Mbeki, a political economist. “It is going to mechanize and reduce the size of the labor force. It will employ fewer and fewer workers. So we have to revive and redesign our manufacturing industry so mechanization does not mean loss of jobs, it just means redistribution of jobs to engineering, where the machines are made.”

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Read more at The Guardian.