Picture Antoine de Ras

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Mineworkers' (NUM) Women Structure will embark on a national march to the Chamber of Mines, Eskom and South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors (Safcec) on Saturday.

The NUM Women Structure on Thursday said it will hand over a memorandum of grievances related to transformation and women empowerment at various workplaces.

"Gender discrimination still prevails in the mining industry, with women comprising a mere 10.9% of the entire workforce. This figure includes women who are doing general work, those on the surface and traffic calmers in construction," said NUM Women's Structure National Secretary Phumeza Mgengo.  

"Most women are being subjected to heavy lifting duties leading them to suffer from back and waist pains, and that alone contributes to disturbed productive cycles and unnecessary miscarriages."

Mgengo said women still occupy low paying positions with fewer opportunities for development and empowerment, with serious salary disparities having been reported.

"In most cases, women are required to work harder to prove themselves with lack of support from both their male colleagues and managers." 

She said there was still non-compliance by employers to legislative requirements. 

"Women are still being refused their basic rights such as maternity leave, career progressive placements during and after pregnancy, and the provision of suitable health and safety Personal Protective Equipment’s (PPE)," said Mgengo.

“We have undertaken a study to determine progress made by employers. Our study has confirmed that minimal progress has been achieved in most areas confirming many other reports such as the Employment Equity Report, Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) and the Presidential report.”  

Those reports confirmed that women in sectors that the NUM organises still experience gender discrimination and exclusion.

She said the NUM Women's Structure demands that sexual harassment when reported be treated as a serious matter. Mgengo said complainants should be protected from possible victimisation after they report the matter. 

“We demand an end to differences in pay and favouritism at workplace based on racial differences. We also demand a meaningful equity and inclusive economic, effective economic participation of women in the mainstream business in our sectors. We demand access to decision making and career advancement,” said Mgengo.

She said marchers will gather at the Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, Johannesburg, at 9am on Saturday. 

- AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY