Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

Over 100 miners who had been trapped underground for nearly three days in South Africa amid a dispute between rival labor unions have safely returned to the surface.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) confirmed that the miners emerged from the Gold One mine, located east of Johannesburg.

Originally, over 500 miners were reported to have failed to surface after their night shift on Sunday, with the NUM, the only formally recognized union at the mine, alleging they were being held hostage by the rival Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

The miners are currently undergoing medical check-ups after their ordeal.

Management and NUM asserted that the workers were being held against their will. However, the AMCU denied the allegations and insisted that the miners were participating in a sit-in protest. The AMCU claims that a significant majority of miners support its union but have yet to receive official recognition, which is why the miners were protesting.

Jon Hericourt, CEO of New Kleinfontein Goldmine, which manages the Modder East mine in Springs, east of Johannesburg, estimated that about 120 of the miners underground were AMCU supporters, and 15 miners had reportedly been injured in scuffles.

While police reported that some of the miners confirmed in interviews that they were held against their will, they have not specified whether the captors belonged to a specific union.

Two paramedics and a security officer remained underground as the situation unfolded.

The incident took place in a context where the NUM, founded by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in 1982, is the nation’s largest mineworkers’ union, while the AMCU was established in 1998 as a breakaway faction of the NUM and was officially registered as a trade union in 2001.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *