THE National Workers Union (NWU) has added its voice to the list of organisations expressing shock at the killing of 34 protesting miners at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa.
They were killed on August 16, when members of the South African Police Service opened fire at protestors armed with machetes, sticks and rocks.
The miners, who had been off the job for weeks, were demanding higher wages.
The following day, South African president Jacob Zuma announced that he would establish a commission of enquiry into the circumstances that led to the killings.
NWU President Vincent Morisson said that his organisation is deeply saddened by the killings, which according to him, bore similarities to atrocities carried out during that country's era of apartheid.
He expressed dismay that the South African Government was unable to use mediation to broker a settlement in the dispute between the miners and their employer. Morrisson said he has contacted the South African confederation of trade unions, through which a letter from the NWU will be sent to the union representing the striking miners.
Making comparisons to Jamaica, the NWU president asserted that the labour relations climate in the island has improved significantly, and made reference to the role of trade unions in reducing violence, such as the recent incident in South Africa, and the 1938 riots in Frome, Westmoreland where police opened fire on protesting workers, killing four and injurying nine.
Meanwhile, international lobby group Human Rights Watch yesterday called on the South African Government to ensure that the commission of enquiry into the killings of the Lonmin miners is independent, impartial, and investigates the underlying circumstances that led to the killings.
The body argued that the enquiry should not be limited to whether the use of lethal force by police was lawful.