The congress of South African Trade Unions in the Northern Cape wishes to commend the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) on their swift response to our formal complaint submitted on 16 January 2015.
The DMR responded to out allegations by sending inspectors on 19 January 2015 to conduct an investigation in order to verify our allegations. We were however shocked to learn that in terms of the records of the DMR Dries Meganiese Dienste is still in Longlands while they moved to Windsorton more than a year ago. This alone created doubt about the legitimacy of their operations.
We wish to confirm that we are in possession of the report which revealed worse things than those we complained about. However the DMR informed us that some of our allegations were not within their jurisdiction. Such allegations – racism (calling workers Kaffirs), transportation of workers in a truck with makeshift canopy and non-payment of bonuses – will be forwarded to the relevant departments for investigation so that action can be taken.
The following shocking revelations were made by DMR on their visit to that mine:
liThe prospecting right used by the company expired in 2005. This matter brings to mind a big question as to how they could get away with this for so long.li
liNo legal appointments could be producedli
liNo training records could be producedli
liThe supervisor claimed that they issued personal protective equipment (PPE) in April 2014 and they have proof. What we are not told is whether the supervisor did produce proofli
liThere are two separate enclosed and well ventilated toilets that are situated nearer to the offices but far from the pans. We can confirm that those toilets are for exclusive use by the whites only who are in management and the workers are forced to relieve themselves in the nearby bushesli
liIt was also found that supervisors on site ignored the PPE requirementsli
liDespite claiming to have afforded medical treatment to employees injured on duty, the company failed to provide proof of such. This, according to us, confirms the allegations made by the employees that they were not afforded medical treatmentli
liThere was a live electrical cable lying on the ground covered in some parts with an insulation tape which can be risky for the workersli
liCertain conveyor belts return pulleys were not guarded at all, posing a risk to the employeesli
libull All TMMs were operating without the required pre-use check list being filled by the operatorsli
We are, however shocked to learn from this report that the supervisor told the inspectors that the operations on that site had ceased and they were in the process of moving while none of the workers were aware of that.
This alone, shows how this company disregards and undermines South African Labour Laws. Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act provides for a consultation process which is not less than 90 days before any operation can be stopped, resulting in workers losing their jobs. hey have not even provided the workers with reasons to close the operations or alternatives to retrenchments.
We are convinced that the company has been mining illegally with the permit that expired in 2005. This, in our eyes, constitutes theft of diamondsminerals and is a serious criminal act. We hope that the DMR will open a criminal case against the owner for this act.
The fact that the operations were halted in that mine means that we intervened in time before lives could be lost.
We hope that the management will be able to meet the deadline of 16 February 2015 to provide all the required information for the department to consider allowing the operation to continue. We hope that failure to do that will lead to criminal charges being laid against the owner.
We call on all the workers who are exposed to high levels of exploitation and racism to approach the office of COSATU we will help them together with our affiliates.
Source : Congress of South African Trade Unions