The Congress of South African Trade Unions in the Northern Cape is shocked and angered by the high levels of exploitation and racism experienced by the workers of Dries Meganiese Dienste in Winsorton. We visited the company on 13 January 2015 where we met with the workers during their lunch time. Our visit was prompted by an article that we read in the New Age newspaper on Monday, 12 January 2015 where we learned about a White worker who is suspended from work and branded a ldquowhite kaffirrdquo because of his refusal to discriminate against Black workers.
Before even the meeting with the workers we saw the situation they are working under and concluded that that workplace is not conducive for workers to be working there. The amount of barbarism that those workers are exposed to is unbelievable in the new South Africa. What we saw there is a clear violation and undermining of the South African laws by untransformed racists who are still trapped in the past.
The following are our findings from visiting that mine of death:
bull Those workers are not unionized because of the employer’s refusal to recognize a union
bull There is no safety equipment for the workers (they do not have decent overalls , boots and gloves)
bull The workers do not have dust masks while they work in extreme dusty environment
bull They were not paid their bonuses in December
bull Each of those workers is doing a work of two or three people
bull They are allowed a thirty minute lunch upon which they are not allowed to switch off the machines, which makes it difficult for them to relax as they are expected to monitor the machines
bull Those workers are forced to call their White colleagues ldquobaasrdquo, failure which they will be dismissed
bull They are transported unsafely in a truck which has a makeshift canopy which is not SABS approved
bull When they get injured at work they are insulted and told that they got injured because they are fools
bull They are exposed to extreme forms of weather and when they complain they are told to go to their ldquoswart regeringrdquo
What we experienced in that mining operation made us to doubt the competency of the officials of the Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of Labour who are responsible. The situation in that mine does not allow for the owner to be in possession of the mining permit as he undermines the South African laws governing mining and employment.
Our experience in that mine made us to believe that the charges against Charles Beet are trumped up as he is seen as the one who gives what they call ldquoKaffirsrdquo the courage to challenge the unjust treatment in that workplace. We vow to defend Charles Beet through our affiliate NUM in order to avoid opportunism by those who want to prey on vulnerable workers.
We have resolved to write to the both the Department of Labour and the Department of Mineral Resources and request for the suspension of their mining permit pending a thorough investigation and compliance with safety regulation.
The situation in that mine vindicates our long held view, that some of the government officials relax the regulations to the detriment of the workers and the benefit of the exploiters.
Source : Congress of South African Trade Unions