“Gencor is an unholy company,” said one worker.” Not even a baboon can stick it there.”
Many workers feel the same way about Gencor. Ask the 23 thousand workers that Gencor fired from the Impala Platinum Mines in January. Ask them what they think of Gencor. Or ask one of the 500 workers who was fired from Gencor’s Marievale mine last year—after they went on a legal strike. Workers know that Gencor makes millions of rand every year. They know that Gencor made R236 million last year just from their gold mines— and they know that last year Gencor gave the lowest wage increases in the mining industry.
Workers know that Gencor hides behind bantustan laws. Gencor won’t talk to NUM at their Impala Platinum mines in Bophuthatswana —because Bophuthatswana says that NUM is a “foreign” union. So why does Gencor talk to the “foreign” whites only union of Arrie Paulos?
Workers listen when the boss of mining at Gencor, Johan Fritz, says things like: “Blacks have a different culture. If they don’t know where you stand, they will lose confidence in you.”
And when the same man says: “Running a mine is like running an army — you have to have discipline. And when he says: “If working conditions do not suit the workers, they must find work elsewhere.”
And when he says: “A worker must think carefully before he strikes. We have a shield — the millions of workers who are waiting for work.”
Gencor is not only one of the hardest companies. It is one of the largest companies in South Africa. Besides owning 12 gold mines, it owns platinum, tin and coal mines.
Gencor also has shares in the asbestos mines in the northern Cape. Thousands of people have already died of asbestos diseases—and thousands more will die in the future.
Gencor is not only in the mining industry. It has a lot of shares in a lot of other companies in other industries.
For example, Gencor owns most of SAPPI, a huge company that makes paper. It also owns most of the Trek petrol company as well as a company called Tedelex. Tedelex is the only company that brings Sony, Blaupunkt and Westpoint products into South Africa.
But it doesn’t stop there. Tedelex owns all the Ellerines Furniture shops as well as the company that sells Empisal knitting and sewing machines.
“It’s not hard to understand why we have bought Tedelex and Ellerines,”says Gencor in one of their reports last year. “We bought these companies because we want to benefit from black buying power.”
Gencor wants to make money from ‘black buying power’. But how do they treat black people? One old miner says: “Gencor is like a sick, rich old man. The more he gets, the tighter his heart becomes. Such people think that they can behave as they like. They think that because they are so rich, they do not need any manners. They insult the very workers who have made them so rich.”
The same old miner has a warning for Gencor. “One day, if a new government starts taking over the mines,” he said, playing with his beard, and starting to smile, “Gencor will be the first on the list. If I live to see that day, I will die a happy man.’