Mining sector needs to empower its workers: Mining Indaba

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The mining sector needs to empower its workers while also taking part in transforming the economy.

This was raised during a one-day Mining Indaba hosted by the Northern Cape Government in the mining town of Kuruman.

The Indaba was held under the theme “Mining in support of the radical transformation of the Northern Cape”.

An unprecedented move by Cosatu and its affiliate the National Union of Mine Workers as they refused to be part of the Mining Indaba, the union, which has been consistently calling on the Northern Cape government to host the Indaba, says it feels excluded as workers and has no faith that there will be tangible solutions.

Cosatu’s Provincial Secretary Anele Gxoyiya says, “This program excludes workers. Mineworkers are suffering in the mines everyday and they are toiling very hard to build wealth for big businesses. They are the generators of this wealth and they have to be given a voice.”

However, that did not stop mining bosses and government from continuing with the day’s events.

Amongst other issues dealt with was the need for mines to spend their profits in the province.

Premier Sylvia Lucas lambasted the mines for using R12 billions of their procurement outside the province.

While admitting to poor collaboration between mines and government, she has urged the mines to invest in their workers.

“In terms of the economy, more people benefit from what is available; also in terms of developing workers so that we do not sit with a situation where as soon as people are retrenched, these people become welfare cases whereas they have a marketable skill and have acquired it through the programmes of the mines.”

Mining bosses received criticism for their failure to develop the mining towns.

Residents who were not invited to the Indaba and found themselves outside the doors demanded answers from the Department of Mineral Resources.

Resident Patrick Masilo says:”We as the community around the mines don’t even work at these mines because they only hire people from other provinces and countries to offer them low wages.”

With the Northern Cape economy boosted by agriculture and mining, it remains to be seen whether it will bear fruit this time around.

Meanwhile, mining unions want it to be reconvened.