ACTSA – Action for Southern Africa Tuesday, September 01, 2015

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Justice for South African Gold Miners

What ACTSA Demands                                                                 
ACTSA supports the call of National Union of Mineworkers South Africa, the union many of the miners would have belonged to, and others for decent compensation and healthcare for all those suffering from silicosis and their families. The compensation and health care to be paid for by the mining companies that profited from South Africa’s gold. As well as ACTSA, these demands are supported by British trade unions and other British based groups and networks, such as War on Want, Amnesty International UK and the London Mining Network.

Background
Silicosis is a lung disease caused by prolonged exposure to silica dust in mines. It decreases lung capacity, making it difficult to breathe and massively increases the risk of TB. The combination of the two can be fatal. It is estimated that thousands of South African gold miners are suffering from silicosis. Silicosis can take 10 – 20 years to develop, and thousands of workers who have left the mines are now suffering the effects of their work, while Anglo American South Africa and other mining companies enjoy the profits.
   
Do they receive treatment?

Currently there is no cure or specific treatment for silicosis.  Medical care is essential for diagnosis and to treat associated diseases such as TB, particularly as South Africa has proportionally the highest number of TB cases in the world. Yet, access to screening and medical facilities are very limited or non existent in the rural areas where many ex-miners live. Without diagnosis, they cannot receive compensation.

The dangers of silicosis have been known for over a century. Current compensation is limited and does not cover pain and suffering. Any compensation is based on pay and black miners were paid the lowest wages possible. 

Anglo American's responsibility                                                     
The demand is for adequate compensation from all the mining companies involved in gold mining whose workers have developed silicosis. Legal action is being taken in London and Johannesburg against Anglo American South Africa and one of these actions includes other mining companies.                                                                                         
Anglo American South Africa (AASA) was the largest gold miner in South Africa throughout the 20th century making millions in profits from apartheid gold. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Anglo American plc which is listed on the London Stock Exchange. Anglo American claims that “we do not accept that it is necessary for people to be made ill whilst working for us.”

ACTSA wants Anglo American to live up to its Corporate Social Responsibility statements and take urgent steps to provide decent compensation and medical services for the thousands of ex gold miners who are now suffering from silicosis. We urge Anglo American to provide leadership and do what is right.

If you want more info on Justice for Miners email: campaigns@actsa.org 
 
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