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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU welcomes the South Gauteng High Court’s decision to allow the silicosis sufferers to institute a class action against the gold mining companies

13 May 2016

The Congress of South African Trade Unions welcomes the decision by the Johannesburg High Court to allow silicosis sufferers to institute class action against South Africa’s gold mining companies. This is huge victory for the thousands of former mineworkers, who contracted silicosis and pulmonary tuberculosis in the mines. COSATU encourages all affected miners and families of the deceased miners to ensure that they join this class action against these gold mining companies

So many lives have been destroyed by the reckless failure of mine bosses to ensure that mineworkers are not exposed to the silica dust. The mine bosses through greed, mismanagement, short-sightedness and narrow focus on their profits have destroyed the industry and people’s lives. Mining companies have been and are still the biggest beneficiaries of the colonial and apartheid capitalism that still haunts this country’s economy

Some of them are currently closing down mines leaving behind a trail of poverty, illnesses and environmental damage. They are not even retraining their workers or investing in the communities that have hosted them and allowed them to operate their mines. Already we have seen over fifty five thousand jobs lost in the mining industry over the past year.

COSATU insists that we cannot continue to allow the rapacious mining companies to abandon their responsibilities. They should compensate the victims of the silica dust and also should ensure that there is an industry wide training and retraining scheme that will help miners to posses’ useful skills rather than simply being dumped in the unemployment line.

The federation wants the mining industry to be restructured and government should also take 50% ownership of all mining companies in the country through a state mining company. The irresponsible attitude of mining companies can be seen in the actions of Lily Mine management that wants to retrench workers cheaply by issuing voluntary packages to workers outside of the section 189A processes. This disdain for the labour laws is troubling because it means that nothing has changed and these mine bosses are still running amok. We denounce Lily Mine’s decision to undermine the laws and call on them to open section 189A on the voluntary packages for its workers.

It is also disconcerting that mining companies are failing to prioritize health and safety of workers over profits. We have seen mine managers and bosses using all the tricks available to avoid provision of a safe and healthy working environment. All of these things need to change and they need to change soon. Mineworkers are the ones who did the back-breaking work to build this economy and this country and they deserve justice.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Street

P.O.Box 1019
South Africa

Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1339
Mobile: 060 975 6794
E-Mail: sizwe@cosatu.org.za