The protracted labour unrest at Marikana is probably a taste of what is soon to hit the entire mining industry.

Mining houses in other sectors must prepare for the likelihood that their employees will soon follow suit and go on strikes – or even wild cat strikes – especially if Lonmin and Amcu find resolution on the remuneration of Lonmin’s workforce in the platinum sector.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) is of the view that the so-called “BEE partners” – in other words the ruling party elite – have a sizable stake in the success of the mining conglomerates. The implication thereof is that government cannot mediate in good faith. Why? Because the very same government mediators and the BEE partners meet each other at the ruling party’s NEC meetings.

We must realise that South Africans who have been employed in mines since the advent of democracy are of a different generation. Their fathers and grandfathers were exploited in the worst possible way and the workforce of today have strong views about reasonable employment and what they consider a decent wage. The mining houses must wake up and smell the roses.

The UDM has long advised, and reiterates its call, that unions and mining houses should deal directly with each other to counter the erosion of constructive negotiation. We implore the leaders of both the unions and mining houses to take responsibility and act in a mature way to reach agreement that is to the benefit of all parties.

Regarding the future, it would be prudent for the leaders, in all the different mining sectors, to be proactive and start their discussions early before they are caught in untenable situations.