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34 South African Miners Killed by Police--What's the Real Story?

The sight of the police shooting striking workers on TV has brought the real world of struggle right into the lounges of public opinion.

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In normal times trade unions can be almost as much a huge bureaucratic machine as a corporation or a state agency, with negotiations conducted by insiders far from rank-and-file members.

Strikes change all that. Suddenly unions are forced to be conduits of their members’ aspirations. Whatever the merits of AMCU as a democratic union, or as one with any vision of transformation, the workers of Marikana made their choices, to become members of AMCU and risk everything, for a better future. For that we owe them more than just pious sympathy.

Leonard Gentle is director of the International Labour Research and Information Group in South Africa.

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