The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) today wrote to all CEOs of mining houses to caution on the detection and control of the Coronavirus. The Union questions the readiness of mining houses to deal with the inherent dangers of especially working areas in mines, where confinement of large groups of workers, compressed air and high levels of heat exacerbate the risk of infection and transmission of the disease. The Union calls on mining houses to urgently convene a Coronavirus Summit for the Mining Sector in order to ensure continuous evaluation of risks and concomitant action by all stakeholders.
Earlier today AMCU received reports of the first South African case that tested positive to Covid-19, also known as Coronavirus. In a letter directed to all CEOs of mining houses, the Union stated that this event confirms that South Africa is now one of the countries that now have a footprint for this dreaded and highly infectious disease. The letter calls on captains of industry and progressive forces like AMCU to work with the State in putting measures to prepare, prevent and respond to the virus.
AMCU states that the Coronavirus permeates social and workplace boundaries, concluding that it is therefore a multifaceted problem, wherever large groups of people are forced together in confined spaces. In the letter, AMCU points out that especially mineworkers are forced to earn their livings in cramped areas with compressed air and high heat. Working spaces like lifts known as “cages” are the ideal breeding ground for this disease. AMCU calls on mining houses to establish their own detection and treatment centres, to limit the impact on mine workers and mining communities.
AMCU requests mining houses to brief the Union on the state of arrangements and measures to ensure continuous evaluation of surface and underground workstations at mines. For this purpose, AMCU calls upon mining houses to call an urgent Coronavirus Summit, as a forum to gauge and bolster the state of preparedness for Covid-19 in the mining sector.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) welcomes the radical interventions announced by the honourable President Cyril Ramaphosa to contain the spread of Covid-19. The Union calls for calm during this trying period, urging its members and all citizens to abide by the measures so that the coronavirus can be contained.
In his live address to the South African nation this evening, the honourable State President announced a national lockdown to commence on 26 March 2020, as well as several other interventions to address the fallout.
“As AMCU, we welcome the national lockdown of three weeks to contain the spread of the virus. As we indicated earlier, we believe that this is the only way to mitigate the contamination of citizens”, said AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa. “We are especially grateful for the interventions announced to lighten the burden on the most vulnerable members of our society, as well as workers”, he added.
“We call on all our members to remain calm and focused during these trying times and ensure that they abide by the measures implemented by the State,” Mathunjwa said. “All citizens now have to act in unison if we are to soften the effects of this pandemic,” Mathunjwa added.
AMCU will engage with the captains of industry and its members to comply and support the measures and interventions announced by the honourable State President.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) is calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to announce radical interventions to contain the spread of Covid-19. The Union proposes various interventions such as a total shutdown of big employers for a period, with the employees continuing to receive income and benefits, as well as a general waiver on the submission of medical certificates for absence due to sickness, during this period. AMCU says it is important to lighten the blow of this pandemic on workers, as they are the driving force behind the South African economy.
Honourable President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday convened with political leaders and captains of industry to strategise on the containment of the coronavirus pandemic. The State President is expected to brief the nation this evening on the outcomes of this session.
Noting the rapid infection rate that is characterising the pandemic, AMCU is calling on President Ramaphosa to announce radical interventions to contain its spread.
“As AMCU, we have already written to the CEOs of mining houses and employers in other sectors to implement measures to contain this pandemic”, said AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa. “While we have welcomed the earlier announcements of the Honourable State President on measures to contain the virus, we feel that much more needs to be done as a matter of urgency if we want to stop the rapid spread of this disease,” Mathunjwa added.
Most economists and political analysts agree that Covid-19 is not only a serious health crisis, but also a social and an economic crisis in the making. Many workers stand to lose their incomes and our economy, which was already grasping for air, will be given another massive blow.
“We call on the Honourable State President to immediately declare that all operations that employ large numbers of workers in a single space, must be locked down for a period of at least three weeks,” Mathunjwa said. “However, no worker should forfeit any of the wages due to them until we emerge from this crisis,” he said. “Only workers in essential service must be allowed to continue working, on condition that the strictest health and safety protocols are observed and they are issued with the necessary preventative equipment and PPE [Personal Protective Equipment]”, Mathunjwa said.
“They must also be paid a danger or risk allowance, which could be called a Covid-19 allowance, as they are risking their lives on a daily basis”, he added.
“In view of the continuous advice that those who feel sick must rather stay home than visit the doctor, we also request for the Honourable State President to declare that no worker may be penalised from being off sick without submitting a medical certificate during this period,” Mathunjwa added.
In its earlier letter to employers, AMCU proposed measures like the installation of thermal scanners and conversion of disused buildings into quarantine and treatment centres.
Standard Bank of South Africa earlier announced a payment holiday of three (3) months for small business owners, and several other organisations have made similar proposals. The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) also cut interest rates with 100 basis points last week.
“While we welcome the measures already implemented, it is time that we look at the effect of this pandemic on the workers,” said Mathunjwa. “It is important to note that workers and their spending power is the driving force behind our economy, and if we don’t look after them first, we will all suffer,” he added. “We implore on Honourable President Ramaphosa to announce radical measures”, Mathunjwa concluded.
AMCU has written several memorandums to its own internal structures and offices, containing measures on how to contain Covid-19. These include access control to and hygiene measures for offices at national, regional and branch levels, as well as guidelines on dealing with absences and meetings.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) is shocked and saddened by the report of yet another fatality at Impala Platinum. The Union sends its condolences to the loved ones of each of the workers. It again calls for greater accountability through tougher regulation of mine safety.
On Friday morning, 6 September 2019, at approximately 03h30, a Scraper Winch Operator was fatally injured underground in a winch related incident. The worker was from the Eastern Cape and had four children.
Investigations are underway, as AMCU understands, and shall reveal more information once completed. However, AMCU has managed to ascertain that from initial observations and inspections, the company may have diverted from their own procedure, allowing for materials to be transported using a winch during a night shift.
News just in: Two Rivers Platinum reports a Load Haul Dumper (LHD) related fatality occurring Sunday, 8 September 2019. The LHD operator was fatally injured by another LHD driving past. An LHD is a Trackless Mobile Machine (TMM), currently second to falls of ground (FOG) as the most common fatality related occurrence.
AMCU sends its condolences to family, friends and colleagues of the fallen workers. May their souls rest in eternal peace. AMCU reiterates its former calls for amendments to the Mine Health and Safety Act, the Union has also called on mining bosses to invest more of their profits and dividends in safety systems and infrastructure. Mining houses should face greater accountability through stronger regulation and enforcement by the DMRE.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) this morning received a notice of the possible retrenchment of 5 270 employees at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Lonmin operations at Marikana. The notice, sent in terms of section 189A of the Labour Relations Act, includes various supporting documents as part of the rationale for the possible retrenchment. AMCU is currently processing the notice and the supporting documents and the Union will comment more comprehensively once due processes are completed. For now, we emphasise that this notice again clearly shows the principle of profit over people. The sad reality is that, if workers escape being killed while working in these mines, section 189 of the Labour Relations Act becomes another weapon to secure the super profits of mining bosses. AMCU will spare no resource to ensure the job security of workers.