Letter to South African Ambassador

In support of striking mineworkers at the British-owned Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa

By Islington UNISON, a Public Service Trade Union

To His Excellency, Dr. Zola Skweyiya,

Ambassador of South Africa in London

Dear Ambassador,

As trade unionists and human rights activists, we were shocked and angered to learn that on Thursday, August 16, police opened fire on striking mineworkers at the British-owned Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa. Forty-five mineworkers were killed in what the South African press called a “bloodbath that recalls the worst massacres of the apartheid epoch” (Business Day).

The only “crime” the miners had committed was to go on strike with their independent trade union in support of the demand for decent wages and decent working conditions from a company, which has been exploiting the miners and their families for years.

We understand that the wives of the miners came out into the streets singing the songs of the struggle against the apartheid regime and demanding that the South African government, led by the African National Congress, “stop shooting our husbands and sons!”

We in Islington UNISON pledge to support the miners and all our brothers and sisters of South Africa who are engaged in a fight for a society that will give the justice and the dignity that they won after their decades-long battle against Apartheid.

We support the South African miners’ demand that the South African government should withdraw the operating license of the LONMIN Mining Company—listed on the London Stock Exchange—and that LONMIN which has been reaping great profits annually up to R92billion but refused to accede to the workers demand to nationalize the mines.

We add our voices to those millions of trade unionists and human rights activists the world over who are urging your government to immediately release those arrested and lift all charges against them.


Jane Doolan, Branch Secretary, Islington UNISON

Mike Calvert, Deputy Branch Secretary, Islington UNISON

This letter is also signed by 79 trade unionists from several unions in their personal capacity.

—August/September 2012