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Press Statement, 22 February 2017
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in the Western Cape Region has observed with concern the various acts of racism at Vedanta’s Black Mountain mine, which resulted in three employees being dismissed over the past two years.
The history of Black Mountain mine and its Aggeneys mining community is a painful history of racial division and separation of the African, coloured and white employees. This mine security department pre-1994 and even up to 1998 were instructed to beat up, jail and remove from town African and coloured workers found in white areas. Acts of blatant racism were prevalent at the workplace.
The NUM waged a consistent struggle against racism at this workplace and community and a significant breakthrough came in 1999 when a war against racism was started and spearheaded by the General Manager Piet Louw and HR Manager Malcolm Van Der Mescht with NUM branch leaders.
The NUM Black Mountain Branch and Western Cape Region is, therefore, shocked, enraged and perturbed by the current General Manager’s soft stance on a racial incident. What is shocking is that a senior white employee calls a fellow employee “Boesman” at the workplace, knowing that the term is part of the derogatory names given to coloured people in the area during the apartheid past.
The affected employee, shocked and angered by the action of the senior reported the matter and the senior was found guilty and dismissed at the disciplinary hearing. However, to everybody’s surprise, the General Manager found him not guilty on appeal and reversed the sanction.
This action of the General Manager has resulted in shock and outraged in the workplace and community.
The NUM view this as a condonation of racism at the mine will erode hard-fought gains in the workplace and community and it brings back memories of a brutal and painful past.
The NUM view this matter in a serious light that both the Black Mountain Branch and Regional leadership met with the General Manager and demanded that;
- The General Manager and Vedanta apologise to the workers and Aggeneys community
- The General Manager uphold the sanction of the disciplinary hearing regarding the senior employee.
- The General Manager resign and leave Aggeneys or the Vedanta CEO remove him from Black Mountain
The NUM also intends to go on an anti-racism campaign by having various activities in the Khai Ma local Municipality that will result in a Red Card Racism march in the month of March 2017 to coincide with Human Rights Day on 21 March 2017.
For more information, please contact:
Lefa Phatsoane: NUM Western Cape Acting Regional Secretary : 082 882 0199
7 Rissik Street.
Tel: 011 377 2111
Twitter: @Num Media