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29 Apr 2020


So. Africa: Union calls on members not to return to work sighting safety reasons; incl company comments

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‘South Africa union tells mineworkers to resist Harmony Gold mine restart’ 28 April 2020

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has told members not to go back to work at Harmony Gold’s (HARJ.J) Target mine on Friday, the union said as mines across the country prepare to restart as the COVID-19 lockdown eases. “As far as we know, Harmony has not implemented the necessary safety steps to ensure that the workplace is safe,” NUMSA said in a statement on Tuesday. “As we speak, with the current skeleton staff, they are failing to maintain proper health and safety standards.” Mineworkers worldwide are resisting going back to work in deep mines where social distancing is nearly impossible and where they are sometimes not provided with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).

…In response to a request for comments, Harmony Gold said it rolled out a COVID-19 prevention strategy across its operations before South Africa’s lockdown was announced, and had a plan to ensure a safe restart. “Harmony’s COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedure is aimed at ensuring a safe return to work for each of its employees and meeting the conditions contained in the amended lockdown regulations published in the Government Gazette on 16 April 2020 for the safe resumption of operations,” the statement read. Harmony added that it has a medical hub at each of its mines.

…However, mindful of the economic damage caused by the shutdown of a sector which contributes 8% of gross domestic product, the government on April 16 said it would allow mines to start up again at up to 50% capacity. On May 1 South Africa will begin a phased reopening of the economy with travel restrictions eased and some industries, such as mining, allowed to operate.