GABORONE – The Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) has urged the government to set up a bargaining council to safeguard the welfare of workers who suffer crippling and fatal injuries while working in the mines.
The call came after one Bamangwato Concession Limited (BCL) worker suffered a broken hip bone after the ore-face he was working on collapsed and buried him under an avalanche of rocks following an underground blasting operation at the mine in Selebi Phikwe on Wednesday evening.
The accident came just three weeks after another that left four workers dead and six critically injured after their transit cage malfunctioned and plunged back underground while hauling workers up from an underground working station of the State-owned nickel mining company.
In a statement issued late on Wednesday night, BCL spokesperson James Molosankwe said the injured worker was "responding well" to treatment at the mine hospital, but gave no details on the injuries. However, BMWU president Jack Tlhagale called for a thorough investigation of the circumstances of the accident and the mine’s safety systems.
To protect workers from losing out to employers in the light of the increasing number of fatal and crippling mine accidents rises, Tlhagale said there was a need for a bargaining council to represent workers and ensure that accident victims and their dependents were cared for and compensated accordingly.
"A bargaining council in the mining sector would mean that during times of fatalities like these, we can have a platform dedicated to handling and preventing similar accidents from recurring in the mines," Tlhagale said.
Further, he expressed concern that the union had never been informed of progress in the investigation of circumstances around the death of the four miners at the BCL complex on May 29.
In a statement, Molosankwe said the latest accident occurred late on Wednesday evening. He said investigations to establish the cause of the accident were underway.