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NEWS: Two strikers killed at Canadian-owned coal mine in South Africa

Two striking miners have been killed by security guards at a Toronto-based Forbes & Manhattan coal mine in South Africa. The Globe and Mail reports, “The company said it has suspended operations at its Magdalena and Aviemore underground coal mines in South Africa, where strikes have been continuing since Oct. 17. …The striking workers have been seeking an increase of about $350 a month for the lowest-paid workers, although they later reduced their demand to between $175 and $230 a month. Union officials said the company is offering an increase of $46 a month for the lowest-paid workers, whose current salary is about $440 a month. The company, which reported $29-million in revenue for the 14 months ending in February this year, is said to be the fourth-biggest coal company in South Africa by market capitalization.”

It’s a complicated situation in South Africa. Earlier this month, Globe and Mail reporter Geoffrey York wrote, “Cyril Ramaphosa, (who went to prison during the fight against apartheid) is a former trade unionist turned powerful businessman, now one of the wealthiest members of the ANC’s executive – and a shareholder in the Lonmin company’s platinum mines in the Marikana area, where 34 protesters were gunned down by police one afternoon in August. …Mr. Ramaphosa enjoys a $275-million fortune from his investments in Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and various mining and banking companies. …The ANC itself has its own financial enterprise, Chancellor House, which has extensive investments in mining and energy firms, including some that do business with the government. …Much of the ANC’s political support comes from South Africa’s biggest trade unions, including the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which was headed by Mr. Ramaphosa in the apartheid era. Those unions are widely seen today as cronies of the government and the mining companies – hence the escalating wildcat strikes by workers who refuse to accept NUM’s guidance.”

More soon.