Marikana Massacre

The news can’t have escaped anybody in the last few days that 44 miners at the Marikana mine in South Africa have been shot dead for striking.

So what does this mean to us? We use platinum everyday here at Stephen Einhorn, we use gold, which has all originally been mined. We pride ourselves on being able to say that all our metal is recycled. Our suppliers reassure us that no gold that we buy is other than fully recycled.

But if you stop and think about it, originally it had to be dug out of the ground and what were the conditions of the mines and the workers like when this happened? Probably not too good. It seems incredible that no one seems to be able to equate the fact that if workers were paid fairly and working conditions were good that this situation would never arise. Why does this happen? Profit. The conditions of the miners are appalling because large corporations want to make loads and loads of money off the backs of their workers and cannot understand that this just may be a problem for the miners and their families digging for their metal. You can’t become mega rich unless you exploit people it simply isn’t possible.

If you’ve just bought a dress that only cost £6, how do you think the company selling that to you has made a profit? Who do you think along that line of markup got paid the least? Probably the person that actually made it.

And in the end how much money does anyone actually need? Do you think it’s essential to be a billionaire? Maybe even a million or two would be rather nice and would pay for a lifestyle that would be quite adequate. Why do some people need so much?

So when you read the depressing news about miners being massacred bare in mind that if they were treated fairly (and let’s face it they are probably only asking for the bare minimum) these situations wouldn’t arise. If the people who owned these companies were less greedy the whole situation would be much much better.

But… I’m not going to let anyone off lightly here including myself, part of the blame has to be on us the consumers. When we buy really cheap goods we KNOW they haven’t been produced ethically because it simply isn’t possible, but we still buy the products and turn a blind eye.

Here at Stephen Einhorn, we are able to supply Fairtrade and Fairmined  gold and platinum  for our customers, but it’s more expensive because there are so few registered mines which means that it isn’t possible to produce it in large quantities. We find that there is a very low demand for it, why? Because it costs more.

Miners from the Fairtrade and Fairmined Cotapata Mining cooperative.

Here at Stephen Einhorn we do the best we can within the industry that we work in to be as ethical as possible. We use recycled metal that has been in the system for up to a hundred years, being refined and remade into industrial components and jewellery over and over again. If you can’t afford Fairtrade and Fairmined gold it’s not a crime, not many of us can pay that bit extra, but don’t close your eyes to the real cost of whatever it is you buy.

We all need to put our money where our mouths are and live and spend with more care.

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