JOHANNESBURG – A miner who formerly worked at the Vaal Reefs mine belonging to ANGLOGOLD ASHANTI is challenging the low limit of compensation offered by the South African government to mine workers suffering employment-related disabilities.
Prominent South African human rights lawyer Richard Spoor is representing the 48-year-old man who was fired for being medically unfit to work. The former miner suffers from permanent respiratory and health problems he believes he contracted while working in the gold mine. He was paid 16,300 rands (Cdn$2,400) when he was dismissed.
At issue is the amount of compensation he received. Payouts to miners injured at work is about one-tenth the amount offered to workers in other industries, according to South African law. And workers and/or their dependents are forbidden from suing their employers for injuries or death that occur on the job.
Spoor is expected to argue that offering different levels of compensation for workers in different industries is not constitutional. If compensation in the mining industry is brought up to the level of other industries, the government may be forced to pay an estimated 10 billion rands.