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.