Amcu says court order will ensure safety of mineworkers during Covid-19

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa.
Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa.
Image: Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has welcomed the labour court judgment on Friday compelling the department of mineral resources & energy and energy to set minimum health and safety standards during the Covid-19  pandemic.

The union especially welcomed the court order which stated that — pending the publication of safety guidelines in the Government Gazette by May 18 —  all employers must at a minimum comply with the interim Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).

The interim SOP is based on the recommendations of prominent health experts.

“This SOP will really assist us in the meantime while we engage on the national process to be completed by May 18 2020.

“Our biggest fear was about mineworkers in congested areas like cages and underground conveyancing, and this was also addressed by the SOP,”  Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said.

The union went to court to compel the department to set minimum standards for health and safety at mines during the Covid-19 pandemic. The case was heard on Wednesday and Thursday and the court order was handed down on Friday.

Mathunjwa said the union will now monitor the compliance of mines with the standards contained in the SOP.

He said as a result of the court order on Friday, the lives and livelihoods of mineworkers could be protected.

Our biggest fear was about mineworkers in congested areas like cages and underground conveyancing.
Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa

He said while the union has consistently declared its support for the mines ramping up production, it maintained the view that a return to work can only happen once national minimum standards are in place.

The union said the interim SOP in itself was a substantial improvement on the regulations and directives issued earlier by the department in April.

It said there were specific provisions regarding the quality of face masks to be issued, as well as social distancing in underground working places.

The union said the issue of hygiene also received broad attention in the SOP, with provision for hand sanitiser not only at entrances, but also at exits.

The SOP obliges employers to clean and sanitise surfaces, and screening is now required on a daily basis.

The SOP also includes provision for the sterilisation of reusable protective personal equipment, communication with and reporting to local health authorities, as well as the appointment of a health professional to oversee the implementation of the SOP itself.

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