The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) calls on all mining companies to respect and be guided by the high-level measures designed with the sole purpose of controlling and curbing the daily spread of the COVID-19.  

The 10-point action plans agreed to with the Mineral Council of South Africa are:

  • Employees education and health promotion for employees, contractors and suppliers
  • Health worker readiness
  • Ensuring access to consumables
  • Proactive influenza vaccination
  • Understanding the potential impact on employees who may be immune-compromised
  • Case definition and management of suspected cases or contacts of cases
  • Isolation of employees should the need arise
  • Travel advice
  • Reporting and communication in the mining industry in the event of a case
  • Monitoring 

“After meeting with the Mineral Council of South Africa, we are happy that the mining companies are coming on board. They are taking this pandemic various seriously, We did meet with the council and we agreed that we will meet from time to time as the need arises, to assess the situation going forward”, said NUM General Secretary David Sipunzi.

 We urge the companies to immediately develop policies that will specifically address the outbreak. By all costs, these companies must minimise the risks of infection at all working stations.

The number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in South Africa, mainly from the people who have travelled to high-risk areas in Europe, Asia and the United States of America has exponentially increased. To date, South Africa is sitting on a time-bomb. More than 500 cases of COVID-19 have already been confirmed and the figures were expected to drastically increase.

The NUM recognises that the mining and the construction sectors are operating with loopholes that could result in many workers becoming more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. Workers in these sectors are in most cases forced to work under or travel close proximity.

The continued spread of the novel virus continues to be a major concern. At this stage, South Africa has a short window of opportunity to flatten the curve prior to the infection point. This has consequences for the individual health, workplace impact and the country’s general economy.

“The NUM has noted the many efforts by the government to allay fears amongst the general population. We are calling on all stakeholders – the organised labour, the business community and the general public to also play their role,” said Sipunzi.

We have to observe the highest standards of hygiene and practice social distancing.

Nation-wide lockdown 

In full support to the government efforts to curb COVID19, the NUM has decided to cancel all union-related gatherings of 100 or more people with immediate effect.

“We welcome President Cyril Ramaphosa’s last night announcements that South Africa will go on a nation-wide lockdown for 21 days with effect from midnight on 26 March 2020. This is a very decisive and a responsible move by the state president. This move will provide an opportunity for all of us to reflect and to deal head-on with the spread of this virus”, said Sipunzi.

The NUM took a decision to suspend all shop stewards council meetings, mass meetings, the upcoming policy conference and the planned regional conferences.

The NUM National Executive Committee will rubber-stamp on such matters when it sits during the course of this week.

The NUM also demands that special arrangements be made by employers to transport those workers who are expected to continue working and to ensure that they are not exposed to this virus.

The COVID-19 outbreak is a threat to the human race and all workers are urged to follow all precautionary measures announced by the government to prevent further spread.

All workers are urged to contact the coronavirus helpline centre at 0800029999 for inquiries related to the novel virus.

All workers in the mining industry will not be going to work during the 21 days lockdown except the care and maintenance employees. Workers that would remain in the care and maintenance of the mines should be provided with basic necessities such as sanitizers, proper food, water, protective clothing and medical care. The mines should ensure that they are not exposed to any kind of risks to the virus.

For more information, please contact:

David Sipunzi, NUM General Secretary: 082 883 7293 

Livhuwani Mammburu: NUM National Spokesperson: 083 809 3257

Luphert Chilwane: NUM Media Officer: 083 809 3255