Durban - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) wants Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe to punish mining bosses every time a mine worker loses his or her life in the workplace, especially while working underground.
This goes against Mantashe's widely held belief that punishing mine bosses for deaths underground could deter investors who would think twice when investing in the country's always dwindling and suffocated mining sector.
In a fiery speech delivered at Cosatu's main workers day rally held in Durban on Wednesday, the federation's president, Zingiswa Losi, said mine bosses should be punished in order to know that workers lives are precious and they should not be lost willy-nilly.
She said the news of 1 800 Sibanye-Stillwater miners who were recently trapped underground and later rescued is a constant reminder that there are still challenges in the workplace.
"We want the minister responsible for the mining sector to take action against those bosses so that they can know that workers lives are not cheap," she said in Xhosa.
Losi also urged workers to report employers who pay their employees below the minimum wage. She said by paying workers less, they are setting them back even though there is already a piece of legislation protecting them.
"As workers, let us work together to expose these employers. We have several government departments and agencies where we can report them to expose this exploitation," she said.
The rally started three hours later (12pm) than the scheduled time at the 6500 seater stadium. Edwin Mkhize, Cosatu's KZN provincial secretary, attributed the delay to the fact that the leadership of the alliance started by laying a wreath at the grave of Archie Gumede, a former leader of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the province.