An Open Letter To Senzeni Zokwana – President of the National Union of Mineworkers

Dear Comrade,

I hear you are demanding pay rises of around 60% from gold and coal producers. This is ridiculous. What on earth are you thinking? You need to demand increases of at least 150%. This is no time to show weakness.

If negotiations aren’t going your way, change your strategy. When management baulks at your demands, don’t threaten to strike and walk out. Rather identify the alpha male in the management pack, climb quickly across the table and bite him firmly on the ear. Don’t let go, even when people try to hose you down. Emitting a low growl will send a message that you are not to be trifled with. After a few minutes, the CEO will stop resisting and go limp. You may now release your grip and continue negotiations. I think you will find management far more amenable to your demands.

I see you’re having a spot of bother with these Amcu interlopers. What a damned nerve they have, recruiting mineworkers by promising them the world and then failing to deliver. That’s been your job for years.

I’m a bit confused about something. Calling for unions to co-exist peacefully, Mineral Resource Minister Susan Shabangu said, “The NUM is not the enemy of Amcu and Amcu should not be the enemy of NUM.”

It must be rather nice for the union to have its own spokesperson in the cabinet, but doesn’t this confuse the workers? After all, governments are traditionally the enemy of labour movements. Then again, your mother, Cosatu, is sleeping with the enemy, so maybe it does make sense.

Shabangu also said unions had a common class enemy in “monopoly capital”. I’m a gibbering idiot when it comes to finance, but without monopoly capital, wouldn’t the mining industry collapse faster than a shop steward in a shebeen on payday?

Anyway. I don’t know what your members have got to complain about. Winter is almost here and while most of us have to go to work and freeze our giblets off, your people spend their days in cosy underground tunnels. They are even allowed to take their shirts off at work. If I had to try that, I’d be torn apart by the ladies in the accounts department.

You need to cut your losses, my friend. Lonmin has fallen to Amcu. You need to march on Mordor (Impala Platinum) and Isengard (Billiton) and dig in. Take the Orcs of Solidarity with you, if you can. They are smarter than they look.

I hear AngloGold Ashanti will no longer be paying your R1.4-million a year salary. What a shame. I’m sure you will agree that the only real conflict of interest in this novel arrangement arose when you had to decide whether a savings or money market account gave the best returns.

Anyway. You don’t need money. You’re a communist. Act appropriately.

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