/ 20 November 2008

NUM urges release of safety report

The National Union of Mineworkers has called for the release of the presidential audit on health and safety in the mining industry.

They made this call following the second day of the union’s national executive committee meeting in Vereeniging.

”The way the report has been held up gives suspicion that it may contain controversial safety details. We believe that the audit will reveal the true status of safety standards in the various mining companies,” said NUM general secretary Frans Baleni.

The audit report on health and safety in the mining industry was commissioned by former president Thabo Mbeki in October last year, after 3 200 workers were trapped underground at Harmony Gold’s Elandsrand mine.

Two weeks back, Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica told the South African Chamber of Mines that the report had been completed and handed over to President Kgalema Motlanthe.

She said at the time that the findings would be made public once Motlanthe had examined the report.

But NUM believes the delay further contributes to slack safety standards in mines.

”The NEC noted with serious concern the escalating number of workers who perish in the line of duty. Over 180 mineworkers have died so far [this year] and thousands others have been injured while thousands more suffer from respiratory diseases,” Baleni said.

He also called on the Labour Department to ”beef up its inspectors to ensure that building sites adhered to proper safety measures”.

Among other issues discussed by the NEC were gender equality in the mining sector, employment equity, and women and child abuse.

”The NEC reiterated its support for the 16 days of activism against women and child abuse and called on men to refrain from any deviant conduct of abuse,” he said.

Allegations that the Congress of the People (Cope) was poaching NUM members affiliated with the ruling party by telling them that provident funds would have been paid to them on November 17 were also discussed.

”NUM condemns the conduct of Shikotas in recruiting its members on false pretences of pension fund withdrawals. The NEC further reiterates its support for the ANC and that it will campaign to ensure a resounding victory in the elections,” Baleni said.

The meeting is expected to come to a close on Friday. – Sapa