Miners go on strike to emphasise the high number of mine deaths this year
Lihle Z Mtshali
Lihle Z Mtshali
Production in South Africa's mining industry will grind to a halt when more than 240000 workers down tools during a nationwide safety strike today.
The National Union of Mineworkers said yesterday it expected more than 30000 members, who are based in Gauteng and surrounding areas, to march from Library Gardens in Johannesburg to the Chamber of Mines this morning, where they will hand over a memorandum highlighting their grievances. The protest will take place on a no-work, no-pay basis.
Miners are protesting against the high number of deaths caused by mine accidents this year. The number of fatalities at mines this year rose to 201 after three more deaths at mines over the weekend. This number already exceeds the total number of deaths in 2006, which was recorded at 199.
Fatal accidents occurred at Anglo Platinum and Xstrata near Rustenburg and a miner died at Gold Fields' Kloof Mine near Carletonville over the weekend.
The union's spokesperson, Lesiba Seshoka, said: "This [year's fatalities] vindicates our action and should send out a strong one-day message to the industry that enough is enough.
"We have been made many promises, but nobody has translated their commitments into action. We say this strike is just a harbinger of worse things to come if we don't see any changes."
Seshoka said the union and its members were not concerned about losing money for mine bosses, but it wanted to achieve zero fatalities at mines.
"For us it is not about how productivity at the mines will be affected because this has absolutely nothing to do with money, but it's all about people's lives."
The trade union, Solidarity, will not be taking part in the stay-away but Solidarity's spokesperson, Reint Dykema, said members would confine themselves to their duties and would not do the work of their colleagues who are on strike. - Additional reporting by I-Net Bridge