Cosatu seeks second mine inquiry

Cosatu has called on for a second commission of inquiry to investigate the state of the mining sector.

Cosatu delegates attend the trade union federation's 11th national congress at Gallagher Estate in Midrand on Monday, 17 September 2012. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA.

MIDRAND - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) wants a commission of inquiry appointed to focus on the history and the current state of the mining industry.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi announced this in a declaration the trade union federation adopted on Monday evening.

Cosatu changed its agenda to accommodate the reading of a declaration that stated the trade unions federation's support for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

The declaration said Cosatu would defend the NUM from ongoing attacks on union leaders and members, following the crisis in Marikana - where 34 miners were gunned down during clashes with police.

Eleven more people have been killed in the ongoing strike by Lonmin workers at the North West's Marikana mine.

Vavi, who was yesterday re-elected unopposed as general secretary, said a second commission of inquiry is needed in addition to the judicial inquiry appointed by President Jacob Zuma to investigate the fatal 16 August shooting.

"The terms of reference of this second commission must be to investigate the employment and social conditions of workers in the mining industry, historically and at present."


Cosatu also called for the police to be demilitarised.

It bemoaned the loss of life due to labour disputes, pledging it would do everything in its power to avoid future deaths.

Vavi said the brute force used by police in labour disputes must end.

"In all labour disputes, we renew our call for the demilitarisation of the SAPS."

The congress will continue at the Gallagher Estate in Midrand today, with Vavi's political report.

He has always said the reports he has written for this conference are explosive, and he is unlikely to be any less bold when he talks today.

Vavi may want to discuss corruption in the ANC and is also likely to have another go at expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.

But Vavi will also want to focus on the problems facing Cosatu itself, and particularly what he calls the social distance between union members and leaders.

The conference runs until Thursday.