The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Eastern Cape region is perturbed and highly saddened by the death of two Eskom Eastern Cape Operating Unit (ECOU) employees due to COVID-19. The death of the two workers takes place immediately after several warnings were issued to Eskom management, demanding that all employees be allowed to work from home to avoid exposure to the deadly coronavirus.
“Their deaths could have been avoided if Eskom management did listen to us. We have now lost committed, selfless and dedicated members”, said Mzu Ntenteni, NUM Eastern Cape Regional Secretary.
Employers should adopt infection control strategies based on a thorough hazard assessment, using appropriate combinations of engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent worker exposures.
The NUM did demand that workers are supposed to be provided with necessary personal protective equipment.
The Eskom Eastern Cape Operating Unit was arrogant towards our demands. They also overlooked the safety and the rights of our members. They forced workers especially those with underlying health issues to return to work.
“Instead, the Eskom ECOU management prioritised production and business targets at the expense of workers. They should have provided proper PPE and adhere to COVID19 regulations; by ensuring disinfection of worksites. As the NUM we are very saddened that at the end, workers had to pay with their lives,” said Ntenteni.
We, therefore, call on the Eskom ECOU to take full responsibility while also urging the departments of Labour and Mineral Resources and Energy to conduct thorough investigations.
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.
The NUM members and other workers cannot be sacrificed for profits during the crisis. The NUM calls on its members to refuse to work in 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 wishes to send its deepest condolences to the deceased families. May their souls rest in eternal peace.
For more information, please contact:
Mzu Ntenteni, NUM Eastern Cape Regional Secretary, 066 297 8525
7 Rissik Street.
Tel: 011 377 2111