The Congress of South African Trade Unions endorse and welcomes the decision by the Anglo American South Africa Ltd and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd to finally agree to a landmark settlement with the former mineworkers, who are suffering from silicosis. An overall settlement valued at around R500 million (£23 million) has been agreed and it will be paid into the Qhubeka Trust for distribution
Tribute should go to our affiliate the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) for persevering and giving necessary support to mineworkers and their families ,who were victims of tuberculosis and silicosis as a result of their exposure to the silica dust. The NUM’s dedication and commitment to fairness and justice for the mineworkers is unquestionable and clearly demonstrates the revolutionary character of this formidable affiliate of COSATU.
The fact that it took so many years for these companies to acknowledge that they were responsible for the illness and the death of so many miners and the destruction of so many families, proves the immorality of capitalism and its decaying self-indulgence. This victory is very hollow for many families, who lost their loved ones and breadwinners because of the recklessness and exploitative tendencies of these mining companies.
COSATU demands that all the affected miners and families of the deceased be accommodated in this settlement. No miner or family should be left behind and no family or beneficiary should lose out on this settlement. We have every confidence in the NUM that they will continue to push harder for more companies to contribute to the Qhubeka trust and will also help with the process of tracing the beneficiaries.
The mining sector has a lot to account for considering the number of mineworkers, who died in South African mines. The black working class has endured severe exploitation while the white workers were protected and privileged on the basis of the colour of their skin. Mining companies are the biggest beneficiaries of the colonial and apartheid capitalism that still haunts this country’s economy.
While some of these companies are at long last taking responsibility for the ill health and plight of former mineworkers, many of them are still playing hardball and still allow racism, oppression and exploitation to thrive in their companies. They have an appalling health and safety record and still refuse to pay a living wage. Justice in this country will only be achieved once all those ,who did the back-breaking work , to build this economy and this country ,are fully compensated for their sacrifices.
Issued by COSATU