Cosatu, NUM call on mining companies to comply with health and safety laws

Trade union federation Cosatu and its affiliate the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) picketed in front of the Chamber of Mines on Thursday, demanding action against what they say are deteriorating mine safety standards in the country.

This picket comes after the death of seven mineworkers last week at the Sibanye-Stillwater gold-mine near Carletonville, Gauteng. Thirteen miners were trapped after a rockfall reportedly caused by a seismic event on Thursday. Six are still being treated in hospital.

“If safety measures had been implemented, this incident would not have happened,” said NUM president Thamsanqa Piet Matosa. “We believe Sibanye could have done more. We are here to remind the Chamber of Mines to ensure that mining companies observe the law. Miners have the right to be safe.”

The trade union said they will ensure that a full investigation is carried out.

Speaking about Sibanye’s treatment of workers, Matosa said: “These people [the employers] are into profits. They have no respect for workers. Some have never been underground to see the conditions of work. It is neglectful to send people who are not properly trained underground just to make profits.”


READ MORE: NUM to engage Sibanye as SA mine deaths soar to 31 this year

“Since January, 33 mineworkers have lost their lives. If nothing is done, more than 86 people could die in the mines in 2018, more than in 2017,” said Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini.

The death toll of mineworkers in South Africa rose to 86 in 2017, putting an end to a decade of lowering fatality rates.

“Employers prioritise their profits. There was a shift, employers stopped focusing on health and security and now focus on the maximisation of their profits,” said Dlamini.

After the reading of a memorandum outside the chamber, the picketers elbowed their way into the building. They wanted Chamber of Mines chief executive Roger Baxter to sign it.

In this memorandum, the NUM and Cosatu outlined the increase in fatalities across the mining sector and called for the enforcement of the Mine Health and Safety Act.

READ MORE: Four mineworkers confirmed dead at Sibanye-Stillwater

The two groups accuse Sibanye of removing health and safety representatives while pursuing disciplinary action against members for attending memorials during office hours.

Failing to meet Baxter, the delegation was received by the chamber’s administration head Jeanette Hosfayer and by its head of health and safety, Sizwe Phakathi. Phakathi said that the Chamber of Mines has already engaged with Sibanye.

“We recognise that we are not where we want to be. We are still committed to reaching the target of zero harm,” he said.

As the picket continued, a memorial service in honour of the seven deceased mineworkers was held at the mine. The president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, Joseph Mathunjwa, said at the ceremony: “Workers are being paid slave wages and are easy to replace, which is why companies are not investing in workers safety.”

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Cosatu proposes interventions to tackle Covid-19 procurement graft

In light of irregular spending on Covid-19 procurement, Cosatu recommends that politically connected people be barred from doing business with the state

Eskom must lead the energy shift

Any plans to change from coal-fired power to renewable and affordable electricity must include turning the power utility into a true public entity

Workers battle for UIF payouts

Snarl-ups at the Unemployment Insurance Fund and bosses not assisting employees worsens people’s suffering

Mboweni to further tighten the belt in his budget

The finance minister will cut departments’ allocations according to their cloth as one measure, and savings will have been made from underspend during the lockdown

Fawu fires deputy general secretary. Again.

Moloko Phakedi plans to fight the decision. Again. The Food and Allied Workers Union says it will continue its inquiry into the R19-million written off in the union’s investment wing

Invisible threat to workers’ rights

Nearly half of all workplaces inspected by the department of labour found to be unsafe
Advertising

New education policy on gender violence released

Universities and other higher education institutions have to develop ways of preventing or dealing with rape and other damaging behaviour

Cambridge Food Jozini: Pandemic or not, the price-gouging continues

The Competition Commission has fined Cambridge Food Jozini for hiking the price of its maize meal during April

Sekhukhune’s five-year battle for water back in court

The residents of five villages are calling for the district municipal manager to be arrested

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday