The miners in the Lanxess mine protest have no intention of returning above ground until management of the mine accept their demands
Lanxess mine protest
The unofficial strike began four days ago when around 200 members of the National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (Numsa) staged a sit-in underground.
They are protesting the alleged sexual harassment and victimisation of a female co-worker by a mine captain.
“The victim reported the incident in August last year. She was so traumatised that she even went to a psychiatric hospital for a few months because of her experience. The alleged perpetrator has never been suspended, and no disciplinary action has been taken against him,” Numsa spokeswoman Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said at the time.
Expanding strike action
Since then the scope of the protest has expanded in both the number of people and the demands they have of management.
Initially they called for the incident with the mine captain to be properly investigated and action taken.
They have been joined by about 100 more staff underground and the demands now include the reinstatement of dismissed workers who participated in a legal strike in 2018, as well as the introduction of an underground allowance.
The families of the protesters have also begun demonstrating outside of the facility, calling for the demands of their loved ones to be met so they can return above ground and all go home.
Poor conditions underground
What’s even worse for the protesters is that the conditions they are staying in underground are not good.
They are apparently sleeping on concrete floors and do not have proper access to water and sanitation facilities.
“It’s cold and some of the people are starting to get sick from sugar diabetes as they have not been able to take their medication. Some are suffering from flu,” One of the protesting miners Alpheos Tselan told Sowetan Live.
“We don’t have toilets, no warm water or blankets. So far eight of our members have been rushed to hospital and management does not want to supply us with an ambulance and the on-site mine clinic is locked.
“We are only getting out to the surface if management will give us what we want. For now, we survive by singing struggle songs and having church services three times a day.”