Thousands of former mineworkers are suffering because of a disease called Silicosis.
Silicosis is a known hazard of gold mining. It is a horrific disease which affects the lungs, causing shortness of breath, coughing (sometimes of blood), and in some cases makes it difficult to walk even a few yards. It also affects the immune system, and sufferers are highly susceptible to TB.
Silicosis can take 10 – 20 years to develop, and many workers who have left the mines – potentially thousands of them – are only now suffering the effects of their work.
Silicosis is a preventable disease. Simple measures, like providing respirators and on-site showers, can save lives.
During the dark days of apartheid, mining was South Africa's biggest industry. Production levels were high, and the profits were huge.The mining companies knew the risks, and put some protection in place – but not for black workers. As was so common under apartheid, black workers were treated as a commodity with profit being prioritised over their safety.
The National Union of Mine Workers in South Africa is calling for a dedicated silicosis fund to be set up without delay, to provide adequate compensation for sick mineworkers, ex mineworkers and their dependants. ACTSA is launching a campaign in support of this.
No amount of compensation can bring back someone’s health, but it can help to ease their suffering. As one ex-miner puts it “There are so many things we need...I have children to look after. I need to educate them, clothe them and support them with food. We worked hard for the mining companies but we have nothing.”
People are ill. They are dying. They need support now. Delays and procrastination will only prolong their suffering. Please help us so that we can help them.
A group of over 450 ex-gold miners is currently taking legal action against Anglo American South Africa (AASA); a wholly owned subsidiary of London based Anglo American plc. They allege they are suffering from silicosis and silico-tuberculosis from exposure to dangerous levels of dust on the company’s South African gold mines.
The AASA case highlights the plight of thousands of former mineworkers in South Africa. If they win, it could not only mean millions in compensation to ease their suffering, but we believe it would encourage other mine owners to provide adequate compensation for their former workers.
In 2002 ACTSA's campaign against Cape plc helped secure £21 million in compensatio for 7,500 miners afected by asbestos related diseases. Securing justice for gold miners will potentiall benefit a much larger number. With your support we can succeed again.
We want to bring ex-miners and representatives of the NUM South Africa to Anglo American’s AGM on 19 April in London. We want to publicise the conditions they worked in and the state of their health now. We want to get parliament, the media and the public to put pressure on big mining companies so that they face up to their moral responsibilities.
It is a scandal that those who worked for so many years, making millions for their employers, should now have so little support. Please donate now, and help us get justice for South African mineworkers NOW.