Strike resolve strengthened after more miners die: SAfrica union

 
 

Strike resolve strengthened after more miners die: SAfrica union

2 days ago

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) — South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said Saturday it was more determined to call a strike over safety set for December 4 after four miners died in accidents in three days.

NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said two workers had been killed in mines belonging to the Gold Fields group west of Johannesburg on Friday and Saturday.

They had been respectively crushed by a rockfall at Westenaria’s Kloof mine and run over by a train in Driefontein.

Also Friday, a miner was buried in an underground landslip at Elandsrand, in the mine operated by Harmony Gold that had only just reopened since 3,200 workers were trapped deep underground for hours on October 4 by a faulty lift.

And on Thursday another death occurred at the Marula mine, belonging to the Implats group, in northern Limpopo province, Seshoka said.

"It is untolerable and unacceptable. It is strengthening us, it shows that there is a real need for us to take that type of action," he said, adding that upcoming talks with the independent agency that mediates between workers and their employers were just a "formality."

Seshoka said that the NUM, the industry’s biggest union with more than 260,000 members, had never had a strike over safety, despite the yearly average of 200 deaths in South Africa’s mines.

Security in the mines, among the world’s largest producers of gold, diamond and platinum, is often an object of criticism. Following the Elandsrand incident in October, President Thabo Mbeki ordered a safety audit into all the nation’s mines.

At the same time, the country’s chamber of mines said it was seeking to reduce death rates by at least 20 percent a year by 2013.

"Mining is dangerous, but this is no excuse for harming people," the chamber’s chief executive Zoli Diliza said in a report, acknowledging that South Africa’s safety record fell way short of the benchmark countries of Australia, Canada and the United States.

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