Official Statement on Silicosis and TB Class Action out of Court Settlement from Breathe Films and the Southern African Resource Watch
Breathe Films and the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) welcome the judgement of The Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, which has approved the historic five billion rands out of court settlement agreement in the Silicosis and Tuberculosis Class Action case.
The settlement is an historic and important victory towards justice for mineworkers and is the culmination of a protracted court battle fought by the Legal Resources Centre, Richard Spoor Attorneys and Abrahams Kiewitz Attorneys on behalf of a class of former gold miners who contracted silicosis or pulmonary tuberculosis during or after being employed as gold miners from March 1965 to date.
Six of the mining companies named in the class action suit are paying out the collective R5billion, formed the Occupational Lung Disease (OLD) Working Group, which represents African Rainbow Minerals‚ Anglo American SA‚ AngloGold Ashanti‚ Gold Fields‚ Harmony and Sibanye Stillwater. The class action suit initiated in 2012 has been described as one of the “most complex multi-party class action settlements ever concluded” by parties.
In terms of the settlement the funds will be used to establish the Tshiamiso Trust which will run over a 12-year period and will be responsible for paying the compensation benefits to eligible gold miners and their dependents in Southern Africa. The Tshiamiso Trust now faces the huge challenge of identifying, tracking and paying an estimated 500 000 ex-miners affected by lung diseases.
In the case of this settlement, the challenges are onerous because the affected mineworkers and eligible claimants:
- Are in many cases sick and dying and too weak to travel and to make the claims themselves;
- Cannot access or provide the required legal and administrative information;
- Do not have access to the legal and medical information required from the South African state and multinational mining corporations, TEBA (The Employment Bureau of Africa) and related institutions required to make the claim;
- Poor and under-resourced to meet the onerous financial, medical, administrative and technical requirements to make the claims;
- Are dispersed across Southern African often isolated in rural areas and are difficult to trace and locate;
- Are not aware or informed of the settlement and their right to claim;
To ensure compensation for the mineworkers in terms of the settlement is made in a transparent; timely and accountable manner, it will require;
- Close monitoring of the work and progress of the Tshiamiso Trust;
- Informing, supporting and assisting mineworkers to make claims and to help secure the compensation due to them;
- Ensuring that the involved South African state institutions and multinational mining corporations and related institutions make freely available the required documentation and records so that the mineworkers can make their claims;
- The medical technology used to test and verify the lung diseases is modified and upgraded to make the diagnosis easier and efficient;
- That mining companies are made accountable to uphold the laws which govern health and safety in mining so that current mineworkers are protected.
Breathe Films and SARW, supported by the Open Society Institute of South Africa (OSISA), Ford Foundation and the Heinrich Boell Foundation (HBF), have launched the Justice for Miners’ Campaign. The Justice for Miners’ Campaign will build awareness of the challenges that lie ahead and campaign for solidarity with the former miners and their families.
The Justice for Miners’ Campaign works towards ensuring efficient compensation for mine workers through:
- Advocating for legal reform of the related compensation laws which will reduce the onerous requirements for compensation and support workers who have contracted lung diseases in the workplace;
- Informing, supporting and assisting affected mineworkers and their families to apply for and receive the compensation due to them;
- Monitoring and supporting the progress and work of the Tshiamiso Trust to ensure compensation is paid to the affected mine workers efficiently and without unnecessary delays;
- Raising awareness of the bureaucratic, legal, geographical, political and financial
challenges and obstacles faced by the sick and dying mine workers in trying to secure the compensation due to them.
- Advocating and lobbying for the necessary institutional reforms to ensure that the sick and dying miners receive the compensation due to them without the undue bureaucratic, legal, institutional, medical and corporate obstacles faced by them;
- Screenings of the documentary film, “Dying for Gold” across Southern Africa and internationally to mobilise solidarity, support and assistance for the sick and dying mineworkers and their families before many more of them die without receiving compensation;
- Advocating for support to hold mining companies accountable for the laws that govern health and safety in mining so that miners no longer contract these lung diseases.
- Dying for Gold is a powerful documentary film that exposes the real cost of mining in South Africa which is borne by migrant mine workers and their families across Southern Africa; and the untold story of how the South African gold mining industry’s silicosis and tuberculosis epidemic is without parallel in the world.
- http://dyingforgold.com/ Dying for Gold @dyingforgold
ISSUED BY: BREATHE FILMS AND SOUTHERN AFRICA RESOURCE WATCH
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SUPPORTING REFERENCE MATERIAL
Court approves historic R5bn settlement in silicosis saga:
Court Approves Settlement of The Silicosis & TB Class Action: