SA: Amnesty slams mining giant over workers' poor housing
JOHANNESBURG (AA) - Amnesty International has condemned British platinum mining giant Lonmin for failing to provide adequate housing to thousands of its South African workers who live in squalid conditions in informal settlements, i.e. around the mine.
According to the human rights watchdog, Lonmin made commitments to build 5,500 houses for its workers in 2006 under its Social and Labor Plan (SLP) but has allegedly not delivered.
In August 2012, police shot and killed 34 mine workers belonging to Lonmin in Marikana after they engaged in protests over pay.
President Jacob Zuma then appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate circumstances that led to the killings that provoked outrage nationwide.
“The Commission concluded that housing conditions for much of Lonmin’s workforce were extremely poor and created an environment conducive to the creation of tension, labour unrest and disunity among its employees or other harmful conduct” Amnesty said in a report released Monday.
Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s director for Southern Africa, said the events of August 2012 should have been a decisive wake-up call to Lonmin that it must address the living conditions of its workers.
“Amnesty International is calling on the Minister of Mineral Resources to investigate and, if required, sanction Lonmin over its failure to fulfill the terms of its SLP on the provision of 5,500 houses, in line with the Commission (of inquiry’s) recommendation,’’ said the rights group.
In a response letter written to Amnesty, Lonmin said it had converted former hostels into 776 family units as well as 1,908 single apartments for workers since 2012.
Lonmin, which is the world’s third largest platinum producer, also said: “The provision of housing for our entire workforce will of course take time and will involve the cooperation of all relevant stakeholders particularly given the current economic constraints.’’
The mining giant also admitted that 13,500 of its employees, who are mostly migrants, did not have formal housing.
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