Today's Labour News

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headgearAFP writes that, despite an apartheid-era ban on women working underground only having been lifted in 1996, 15% of all employees in the mining sector are now female, exceeding the government’s own target of 10%.  

But reports of sexual harassment are common, and some retired miners say female miners face pressure to offer sexual favours to their male colleagues.  The experience underground of Bernice Motsieloa, a shift supervisor at Anglo American Platinum’s (Amplats’) platinum mine is related.  After getting bored with manual labour, she approached her manager and started training in 2006, first becoming a skilled miner and then a supervisor.  Motsieloa says she has never suffered physical violence since first going down the shafts in 2002 in a gold mine, though she vividly recalls the verbal abuse she endured.  Amplats is SA’s largest private sector employer and has 3,081 women working in underground operations.  It has introduced a "buddy buddy" system to ensure that women don’t work alone when down the mines, as well as setting up a sexual harassment hotline.  Other new safety measures include surveillance cameras and biometric identity turnstiles at entrances to women’s changing facilities.

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