TWO temporary employees at the Xtrata mine in Steelpoort near Burgersfort in Limpopo got more than they bargained for when they burnt their faces while allegedly performing 'scab' duties at the mine.
The two scabs (people employed to temporarily replace workers on strike) had been employed while almost 400 workers were on strike.
Apparently, management had decided to engage the services of the two victims to continue working while the strike was on.
But mine management did not consider that the two were ill-equipped to deal with their allocated tasks.
Sowetan has learnt that Jan Joubert, who worked as a furnace manager, and contractor Louis Forche, "burnt their faces because they failed to follow the correct procedures" while working.
The two allegedly could not competently operate some of the mine's machines.
Freddy Siphorogo, a National Union of Mineworkers shop steward at the mine, confirmed yesterday that the two were treated and later discharged from the Polokwane Medi-Clinic after they got burnt on Monday.
"The two men were badly injured in their faces. Management must be blamed for allowing them to work in sections they were not familiar with," said Siphorogo.
He said the strike, which started on June 22, was continuing until management gave them what they demanded.
According to Siphorogo, two other workers were also burnt while working at the mine some time ago.
He said, however, management did not want to go public about the matter.
He further accused management of using cheap tactics to divide the workers.
"We are also aware that there are spies who are being used by management to provide highly sensitive information about those on strike.
"At this stage, we do not know what management's intentions are," he added.
Xstrata spokesperson Songezo Zibi yesterday confirmed that the employees were injured while doing maintenance work on the mine's furnace.
He confirmed that three employees suffered burns to their faces while the fourth had a burst ear drum.
"Both incidents are currently under investigation," said Zibi.
Spokesperson for the hospital Caroline Schulze also confirmed yesterday that two mine employees were treated for burns and discharged.