26 June 2018

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has now termed the spate of deaths in mining-related incidents a crime against humanity. This comes after yet another miner died in a mining accident early this morning. The Union repeats its calls for urgent intervention to address this tragic state of affairs. It wants workers to have more power to refuse to enter dangerous work areas, while calling for upscaled training for managers and workers.

In the early hours of this morning, AMCU received the tragic news from Sibanye- Stillwater management that there was a fatal accident at Khomanani Shaft at Sibanye- Stillwater’s Driefontein operations. AMCU’s health and safety desk in the region confirmed that the deceased worker was a winch operator aged 35, and that the accident happened at approximately 3:20. Further details are still sketchy.

AMCU sends its condolences to the loved ones and colleagues of the fallen worker. We hope and pray that they might find closure in this difficult time.

AMCU sees these accidents as a crime against humanity. Even worse, it is a crime against the most vulnerable people in our society – those who have to toil daily for low wages so that mining bosses can maximise their profits and keep shareholders satisfied.

AMCU repeats its clarion call for urgent intervention by Mining Minister Gwede Mantashe and President Cyril Ramaphosa, and specifically for urgent amendments to section 23 of the Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA). This section gives workers the right to refuse to work in dangerous conditions, and the Union wants it amended to give more power to workers and trade unions to counter the power of mining bosses. Proposals currently being worked on by AMCU include specific procedures to strengthen section 23, as the current stipulations are deemed to open-ended.

Currently workers fear victimisation and unfair disciplinary action when calling upon this right. They fear being bullied and intimidated for making a stand. The obvious other fear relates to loss of income.

Still, we believe that it is important that this right is enshrined, and we need more investment in training so that workers can recognise hazardous working conditions. AMCU will be engaging with Sibanye-Stillwater to upscale health and safety training programmes for managers and workers so that we can proactively address these challenges. AMCU will also raise these issues at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Safety Summit scheduled for this coming Friday (29 June 2018).