Posted on: December 4, 2007 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

South Africa. Mines across the country will grind to a halt today when more than 240000 workers down tools during a Safety strike.

The National Union of Mineworkers said yesterday it expected more than 30000 members based in Gauteng and surrounding areas to march in the city centre from the Library Gardens to the Chamber of Mines, where they will hand over a memorandum highlighting their grievances.

The protest is expected to affect more than 700 mines and will take place on a no-work, no-pay basis.

The miners are protesting to highlight Health and Safety issues. The number of fatalities at mines this year rose to 201 after three more deaths at the weekend. This exceeds the total of 199 deaths in 2006, with a month of this year still to go.

Fatal accidents occurred at Anglo Platinum and Xstrata near Rustenburg and a miner died at Gold Fields’ Kloof Mine near Carletonville at the weekend.

Lesiba Seshoka, NUM spokesman, said: “This strike 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 are saying this strike is just a harbinger of worse things to come if we don’t see any changes.”

Seshoka said the union wanted to achieve zero fatalities at mines.

“For us it is not about how productivity will be affected. It’s all about our people’s lives.”

Jabu Maphalala of the SA Chamber of Mines said the chamber supported the mineworkers’ action and had signed an agreement with the union over the matter.

“We believe that issues of health and safety have to be tackled head on by the industry.”

Maphalala said joint initiatives between unions, the chamber and industry stakeholders were still needed “to curb fatalities”.

Solidarity said it was concerned that mineworkers would be putting in overtime to make up for the Christmas break. The trade union will not be taking part in the protest.

Source: The Times