Miners get Health and Labour compensation pay-out

Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) deputy minister Godfrey Oliphant announced the joint compensation package.
Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) deputy minister Godfrey Oliphant announced the joint compensation package.

South Africa is combining its mining, Health, and Labour compensation benefits in a pay-out campaign in 2016.

Godfrey Oliphant, Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources, outlined progress with a social protection benefit bonanza, and a presidential package, for ex-mineworkers,  at the AIDS 2016 Conference in Durban:

There are two labour compensation systems for work-related injuries and diseases; one under the Department of Health covering mineworkers for heart and lung diseases; and one under the Department of Labour for injuries, and for other workers.

These two systems created confusion among mineworkers who had to go for heart and lung diseases to Health, and for injuries to Labour.

We hosted a summit in May 2016 with the Mine Health and Safety Council (MHSC) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), with labour, employers, social partners, and neighbouring governments.

As part of the Special Presidential Package for the Revitalisation of Distressed Mining Communities and Labour Sending Areas; with the Departments of Health, and Social Development, we have conducted awareness programmes in all provinces.

These take the form of mass meetings, social dialogues and round table conversations. We invite you to join us on Tuesday 26 July in ePhongola, with ex-mineworkers, hosted by the minister of Labour.

The Compensation Fund sharecall number for tracking and tracing of labour compensation is 0801000240.

R30-b in unclaimed Labour compensation

I am led to believe that there are about R30-b in unclaimed labour compensation benefits. A substantial portion is for ex-mineworkers who, partly as a legacy of the migrant labour system, have not accessed these funds.

The mineworkers came from South Africa and neighbouring countries. In 2013, then Deputy President Motlanthe delegated me to find solutions for ex-mineworkers in the Eastern Cape who had unclaimed benefits in the Department of Labour and Department of Health.

Through our efforts about 14 000 ex-mineworkers received compensation benefits amounting to R40-m, and 8000 received UIF benefits amounting to R14-m.

The ex-mineworkers also queried their monies locked in pension and provident funds, as well as funeral benefit deductions.

The Department of Health initiated a One Stop Service Centres in Mthatha, and Carletonville, in April 2014, to provide medical examinations and compensation services on a decentralised model.

There are efforts underway to add rehabilitation services for injured mineworkers to provide an integrated service covering occupational diseases and injuries.

There have been delays in establishing the One Stop Service Centres in Kuruman and Burgersfort… by the Department of Health to build in this financial year.

In May 2016 the first mobile one stop facility, for claims management, health clinic, including X-ray and lung function testing, and a mobile bank, were rolled out in Kuruman; in June 2016 in Piet Retief; and in July in Matatiele, covering 459 ex-mineworkers.

The One Stop Service Centres have seen about 6000 ex-mineworkers with 4000 referrals to the head office in Johannesburg since opening in April 2014.

Further mobile outreach activities are planned for Bizana, Lusisiki, four other districts in the Eastern Cape, Welkom, and Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland over the next four months.

Labour compensation funded from nine sources

This has been made possible by funding from the World Bank, Chamber of Mines, Gold Working Group, and support by the provincial and local governments, traditional leaders, NGOs, banks and social partners.

We have participated in a proposal to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, covering ten countries in Southern Africa, at $30-m (about R350-m).

The grant is managed by the University of Witwatersrand Wits Health Consortium, to build two one-stop centres each in Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland, and one in Botswana, by April 2017.

The Macadamia nut initiative provides an alternative economy for the rural communities in the wild coast and could serve to create new economic opportunities for ex-mineworkers and their families.

DMR, DOH, and mines to pay our R1.5-b labour compensation

In May last year, the Minister of Health and I, with trade unions and the Chamber of Mines, launched Operation Ku-Riha to pay R1.5-b to 103 000 ex-mineworkers with unclaimed compensation benefits.

While progress has been slow owing to setting up the tracking and tracing system, since February 2016, we have paid 1443 claimants about R56-m, and R3-m has in neighbouring countries.

In November last year, the Minister of Health wrote to me to convene a Steering Committee and Technical Task Teams to develop an integrated workers’ compensation system, with the support of Deputy Minister Phaahla of the Department of Health, and Deputy Minister Inkosi Holomisa of the Department of Labour.

To enrich the database we have started discussions with the Chamber of Mines to cover the current workforce of 500 000 mineworkers.

In June 2016 there was a government workshop with  the Financial Services Board. A steering committee and task teams on legislation, the database and tracking and tracing activities has been set up.

A logistics and coordinating centre was set up at DMA, and at the Chamber of Mines.

Regarding the HIC/AIDS and TB pandemic, the Chamber of Mines is screening the current 500 000 mineworkers for TB, and HIV counselling and testing. The target for 2020 is 90% diagnosed, 90% on treatment, and 90% viral suppression.

Source; SA Government Communications.

The Presidential Package for mining communities include TB screening, HIV counselling, treatment, and agriculture projects (Photo: TB Facts).
The Presidential Package for mining communities include TB screening, HIV counselling, treatment, and agriculture projects (Photo: TB Facts).

Sick miners would get R3000

Earlier, Health minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi had said in May 2016 that the DOH would pay R1.5-b from the R2.9-b mining compensation fund, to 500 000 former miners with lung disease in Southern Africa, including neighbouring countries.

The pay-out, named project Ku-Riha, could amount to an average of about R3000 per identified ailing mine worker.

Some mining companies have initially contributed R5-m to appoint a project manager and staff for the pay-out process.

Epidemiologists had earlier estimated in an academic study that eight times more money would be needed, however many of the affected miners have since died, and the workforce is considerably smaller, with a higher staff turnover.

Sources; COM. AllAfrica.com. Sheqafrica.com

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Edmond Furter

Editor at Sheqafrica.com
Edmond Furter is the editor of Sheqafrica.com. He is a freelance technical journalist, and has won six journalism awards. He specialises in industrial, business, and cultural content in web, journal, and book formats.