Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 08 June 2010 – The close to 100 remaining employees of the Grootvlei Mine outside Springs on the East Rand who are responsible for doing the care and maintenance work at the mine, have embarked on a full-scale strike. The mine is owned by Aurora Empowerment Systems “’ the South African company led by the grandson of Nelson Mandela.
In a statement issued here, the Solidarity trade union said employees were dissatisfied, as they had not received their salaries since February. In addition, it had come to light that life insurance had not been taken out for them.
Solidarity notified Aurora’s management of the employees’ dissatisfaction in writing last week, but has not received any feedback yet. The trade union maintains that the company should take responsibility for these employees and their safety.
The employees concerned – who are responsible for, among other things, pumping out contaminated mine water from the mine “’ are the last remaining members of the mine’s estimated 3 000 work force. The maintenance work that is done at the mine is crucial in order to protect it as an asset.
According to Solidarity deputy general secretary Gideon du Plessis, these employees had stayed behind to carry out essential maintenance at the mine. Although they were still working, they did not get paid. “What is even more disturbing is that no life and disability cover has been taken out for these employees,” explains Du Plessis. “Therefore, should any of them be involved in an accident, they would not be compensated. In the meantime these employees continue to work under extremely dangerous circumstances.”
In terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act of 1993, the mine is required to take out the necessary insurance for its employees.
Du Plessis further emphasised that the strike could have a negative impact on the environment and the mine itself. “If the pumping out of contaminated mine water is not resumed this week, the Grootvlei Mine as an asset could be destroyed as a whole. Apart from this, damage could be done to the environment,” he explained.
“Employees have reached breaking point,” he revealed. “Since the problems surfaced here in February, they have not received their full salaries once. They work under appalling and dangerous circumstances, and the mine’s owners have not made any attempt whatsoever to improve the infrastructure and the safety in the mine, Du Plessis claims.