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NUM to demand 'justice' for silicosis sufferers at Anglo AGM

24th April 2014

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

  

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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Representatives of South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) planned to attend mining giant Anglo American’s annual general meeting, taking place this afternoon, to demand “justice” for former gold miners suffering from silicosis.

NUM president Senzeni Zokwana on Thursday accused the mining giant’s board of “procrastinating for the last 20 years” and demanded the company pay for testing, healthcare and decent compensation for ex-miners and their families who were suffering with the consequences of silicosis, particularly tuberculosis.

“Thousands of former goldminers have already died from lung disease and thousands more have had their lives destroyed. Unless Anglo American acts now, thousands more will die without the healthcare, compensation and support they deserve,” he said in a statement, questioning the need to head to court for compensation.

Zokwana noted that, while there was a statutory compensation system, it provided a very modest level of compensation and without a diagnosis the vast majority of miners had not received compensation.

Anglo American told Mining Weekly Online in an emailed statement that it, along with industry, government and civil society partners, shared “common objectives” to improve the access to and quality of healthcare for all disadvantaged South Africans, particularly those living in rural areas of South Africa.

“We understand that partnership must be at the very heart of our approach in tackling not only health  but broader sustainable development issues we face,” an Anglo spokesperson said.

There are more than 3 500 miners and former miners taking legal action against Anglo American South Africa in London-based courts, while an action on behalf of 17 000 former miners against 30 mining companies, including Anglo American South Africa, Harmony Gold, AngloGold Ashanti and Goldfields, was currently under way in Johannesburg.

The Trade Union Congress, Action for Southern Africa and the London Mining Network would also protest outside the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre, in London, where the AGM was taking place, in support of the miner’s demands.

Edited by Tracy Hancock
Creamer Media Contributing Editor

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