Today's Labour News

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miner thumb medium90 104GroundUp reports that Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources Godfrey Oliphant told Parliament’s portfolio committee on mines last Friday that private litigation “is a flawed solution to the problem of justice for workers who contract occupational disease” and that he had been “discomfited” by the past experience of the asbestos relief trusts.  

“Lawyers take their cut and disappear, while some workers in the Northern Cape died without receiving a cent”, Oliphant claimed.  To prevent this, Oliphant suggested that when lawyers for ill former mineworkers and their erstwhile gold mine employers reach a settlement in the gold mining silicosis case, there should be government representatives on the board of trustees of the compensation fund to be set up to pay damages.  Oliphant’s “looting” allegation referred to the Asbestos Relief Trust set up in 2003 and the Kgalagadi Relief Trust set up in 2006.  By 2013, trustees had provided medical certification examinations for asbestos-related disease for 3,600 former mineworkers and their dependents, and had paid out a total of R250 million.  But along the way the trustees were challenged a group of Kuruman residents who demanded compensation though they were not suffering from asbestos-related diseases.  The trustees were not shown to have acted improperly in subsequent court rulings.  Nonetheless the chairperson of the portfolio committee, Sahlulele Luzipo, agreed with Oliphant that the State “ought to be represented in the (silicosis) trust account”, and requested Oliphant to investigate this.

  • Read this report by Pete Lewis in full at GroundUp

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