NEVER AGAIN: Protesters supporting the Marikana victims demonstrate outside the Rustenburg Civic Centre. Picture: THE TIMES
NEVER AGAIN: Protesters supporting the Marikana victims demonstrate outside the Rustenburg Civic Centre. Picture: THE TIMES

THE discussion of Marikana and the platinum industry has become a dreary parade of rival prejudices, so your readers may find a Wall Street Journal report on Australian rock drillers illuminating.

It cites the example of a young man, James Dinnison, who earns A$100,000 a year (about R900,000) as a rock driller.

Dinnison, now 25, is a high-school dropout and has a criminal record but found a job in the mining industry seven years ago and was trained to be productive. His academic qualifications are no better than those of many South African rock drillers who have "some secondary education".

He works underground handling a number of drills, not in an open-pit mine, and has already in his short career earned (and squandered!) nearly A$1m, or R9m.

He claims laughingly that he creates employment for other Australians in the consumption sector.

The Marikana rock drillers went on strike for less than one-sixth of Dinnison’s wage, and some of them ended up being shot for their trouble.

It shames the owners and managers of the London-registered mining companies that they can neither train workers to be more productive, nor turn a profit on wages less than one-sixth as much as Australian miners earn.

Either the mines are not viable, or the managers are incompetent.

For more than a century, mine managers have been importing foreign workers to undermine local wages, rather than face the cost and effort of raising productivity at home.

The result is Marikana.

Thirty years ago, I used to say the country would not come to rest until it achieved universal suffrage; now I say it will not come to rest until the colonial structure of the economy is dismantled.

Believe it or endure it.

Ken Owen

Claremont