Amcu: Silicosis ruling must serve as an eye-opener

The High Court ruling will see the largest class action in SA fighting gold mining companies for compensation.

FILE: Supporters of the sick former mineworkers outside the Johannesburg High Court. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) says the landmark silicosis ruling must serve as an "eye-opener" to government and mining companies, that the health and safety of workers can no longer be ignored.

Yesterday, the High Court in Johannesburg handed down a historic judgment, which will now see the largest class action in South Africa fighting gold mining companies for compensation.

Thousands of workers are suffering from silicosis or TB, while others have already died.

Workers are now in a process to sue mining companies for damages.

Amcu spokesperson Manzini Zungu said, "Mine health and safety is an issue whereby if you want to cut costs, you just send human beings to get the disease and go back to Eastern Cape to be buried without anything. It is a victory for workers."

MINING COMPANIES STUDYING THE RULING

Yesterday, the Occupational Lung Disease Working Group, which represents African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony and Sibanye Gold, said the companies were studying the contents of the judgment.

While the companies haven't yet decided on whether to lodge an appeal, they said the finding doesn't represent the merits of the cases brought by the claimants.

LISTEN: High Court approves silicosis action suit

The group's spokesperson Alan Fine said issues related to compensation and medical care for the mineworkers should be settled outside of court.

"This Working Group has been working since 2014, interacting with government and other stakeholders in trying to improve and fix the compensation system."