The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has learnt of fatal accident at Mzimkhulu Colliery in Mpumalanga Province. The Union reports that it requested a list of mines exempted from the national lockdown, but that none was forthcoming. AMCU then provides provisional safety statistics for the mining sector to date, including national statistics on the Covid-19 coronavirus.
In the early hours of Wednesday, 1 April 2020, a worker was fatally injured in a conveyor belt-related incident at Mzimkhulu Colliery, which is located near Kendal Power Station, between Delmas and Emalahleni. Reportedly, the worker was caught between the conveyor belt and the transfer chute.
AMCU questions whether the required safety mechanisms were in place to prevent such an accident, and also why there appears to have been no engineering controls to prevent an employee getting dragged by a conveyor belt.
Just last week, AMCU wrote to the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Mr Gwede Mantashe. In the letter, the Union expressed its disappointment with the blanket allowances for the exemption of specifically coalmines from the Covid-19 national lockdown. AMCU also asked for a list of these mines, as undertook by the Minister at an earlier engagement. This was done for the express purpose of allocating resources to these mines in the case of any incident occurring. The Minister has yet to respond to AMCU’s letter.
At this stage it is unclear whether Mzimkhulu Colliery was granted exemption status as an essential service.
Update on provisional safety statistics:
Provisional fatalities in the South African mining industry currently stand at thirteen (13), with injuries at 467 year-to-date (as at 23 March 2019). With this fatality, the total is 14.
Coronavirus deaths in South Africa officially stand at 5, with 1353 infections. This invisible killer must be dealt with effectively and efficiently. We implore all employees to be mindful of safe hygiene practices and follow all sanctioned directives. We appeal to all employers in the country to ensure protection of their employees’ health and safety and that of their families and loved ones.
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.