zero harm

NUM and COSATU will be picketing at the Chamber of Mines today to demand drastic action against the deteriorating mine safety standards in the country.

Since the beginning of the year, the mining sector has seen more than 33 deaths.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has invited workers to join this picket and make it clear to the Chamber of Mines that their insatiable greed creates widows and orphans.

The details of the picket are as follows:

Venue: The Chamber of Mines Offices –Corner Sauer and Marshall Street Marshalltown - Johannesburg

Time: 12:00 – 14h00

This follows the NUM holding a mass meeting at Evander Gold Mine in Mpumalanga yesterday. This was to protest the company deciding to retrench 1 722 mine workers at the end of this month.

The union has previously noted the decision to let 1 722 out of 1 812 workers at the mine leave on May 26 with grave concern.

"This has been done regardless of the NUM requesting the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) to intervene in line with leaders' declaration in mining industry commitment to save jobs and ameliorate the impact of job losses," said the NUM in a statement.

Evander Gold Mine is currently constructing a plant aimed at refining the tailings and still making a profit while workers face poverty, the union said.

"The plant under construction had a budget of R1.7-billion. If the company had used this budget to improve the ageing structure as they allege the closure of the mine could have been avoided.

"However, Pan African Resources as a capitalist in their nature and character seeks to maximise profit at the expense of workers, directed resources to surface operation, neglecting the underground operation which will result in the surface operation being operated by contractors perpetuating cheap labour."

The union claims there is enough ore to allow the mine to run for another 40 years, and accuses Pan African of acting irrationally in closing down an operation that had the potential to create jobs.

"What is painful is the fact that Pan African Resources gave employees an ultimatum to vacate the company houses by the 30th May 2018 (as the company is) planning to sell those houses. This is painful because 80 percent of the workforce was drawn from all over the country and the neighbouring countries and they now reside with their families and their kids being registered at surrounding schools.

"The fundamental question is when Pan African Resources dismisses these employees from the company houses what will happen to the learners at this point in time? This, of course, proves that Pan African Resources does not care about workers who generated profit for them over the years," says the NUM.

NUM says if Pan African Resources cannot continue operating Evander Gold Mine the company should surrender its mining licence to government instead of closing down.