The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Harmony Gold had a meeting yesterday at Harmony Gold offices in Randfontein and agreed that all workers in all Harmony Gold operations in South Africa will be going back to work on the 2nd of May 2020 after the second lockdown.
“We have agreed with Harmony Gold that as the lockdown ends on the 30th of April 2020, workers will be utilising the 1st of May which is the Workers Day to travel from various homes to their places of work. Those who are locally based are free to go to their places of work on the 1st of May for the screening of the Coronavirus. Those who will be travelling afar will have to go to their places of work on the 2nd of May for screening,” said David Kolekile Sipunzi, NUM General Secretary.
Harmony Gold has agreed to pay workers their salaries during the lockdown period.
The two parties agreed that intensive screening will be done to test everyone for COVID-19 when they come back to work. Those who are found to be positive will immediately be isolated and those who are sick will be sent to hospitals. The company has committed that stringent measures will be put in place in all its operations in South Africa to ensure that the health and safety of all workers. The NUM Health and Safety structures and management at Harmony Gold operations will be part of the task teams to assess and monitor to see if the company is adhering to the Health and Safety standards when all workers are back at work. The two parties agreed that the Health and Safety of the workers comes first and will not be compromised.
The company has committed to roll out a massive education programme about the virus when all workers are back at work. The company said all its health workers are properly trained and are ready to deal with the virus. The NUM told the company that it must make sure that all its health workers have fitness certificates to make sure that they are regularly tested for the virus. Sanitisers and masks will be available to all employees 24 hours 7 days a week. Social distancing will also be strictly observed when workers will be working.
The company also informed the NUM that body scanners have been secured and arrived from China. They will be able to scan temperatures of 30 employees at the same time. The installation of the body scanners will be done at the company’s big mines. Employees whose temperatures are around 37 and above will immediately be isolated for a day and further tests will be conducted. If they test positive they will immediately be isolated until they recover from the virus.
The company also revealed during the meeting that as part of fighting the Coronavirus in all its operations it is testing a new product that will be used as a broad-spectrum disinfectant in buses, lifts and cages. The company will get the test results today to see if the product can help fight the virus.
The NUM will make sure that workers who are coming back to work will not be exposed to any kind of risks to the virus. The Coronavirus is a way more dangerous than just the flu and it is killing thousands of people around the world. Many countries have declared war on the virus including South Africa.. The whole world is grappling with the coronavirus crisis. NUM members and other workers cannot be sacrificed for profits during the crisis. We expect all mining companies in South Africa to adhere to the strict health and safety measures in fighting the virus in their operations. The NUM calls on its members to refuse to work in mines and operations where necessary strict measures are not put in place to protect them from the virus. The NUM will not hesitate to name and shame mining companies that are not adhering to the strict health and safety measures in fighting the virus.
The NUM also calls on the mining companies to make available some of their clinics and hospitals to treat employees who are sick and infected of the virus.
For more information, please contact:
David Sipunzi: NUM General Secretary: 082 883 7293
Livhuwani Mammburu: NUM National Spokesperson: 083 809 3257