One of the main aims of data visualisations is to represent information or data in a graphical format. A picture can tell the story of a thousand words with a single glance and speak the same language to all people looking at the picture. It is hence always interesting to represent stories with a social and political side in terms of a single graph. In mid 2012 a tragic incident happened in South Africa, 45 people lost their lives during a strike by by miners working for Lonmin mine in Marikana1 2.. The miners were striking for a 22% increase in their wages. 22% is just one of the numbers that tell the story of Marikana. This post collects some of the numbers and represents them in a graph.
There are many opinions on the Marikana tragedy. The unions have blamed the mining company for the manner in which they handled the strike. The workers say the union leaders, particularly those belonging to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have lost touch with the miners.
Social commentators point to the fact that South Africa is one of the highest ranked countries when it comes to the gap between the rich and the poor. It is not for me to say who is right or wrong but perhaps looking at the numbers will give some perspective state of salaries and expenditure surrounding the Marikana tragedy.
It will take a Lonmin rock driller – who earns on average R10 500 in a total-cost-to-company monthly package (working 8 hours a day underground) – almost a decade to earn what the company’s chief executive earns in a month3. The commission established to investigate Marikana will reportedly cost 75 million Rands 4. Its safe to say the lawyers and judges involved will make much more out of Marikana than the miners.