The recent media coverage of two cases in which workers were injured at work several years ago and have yet to receive compensation will inspire others to come forward with their details to Labour Centres, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said on Sunday.
He added that his department would soon strengthen its occupational health and safety team of inspectors, with the aim of improving occupational health and safety in the workplace.
Nxesi on Sunday visited Amos Mabuza, one of the individuals whose plight was recently highlighted by eNCA Checkpoint. Mabuza’s sight was badly impaired, apparently as a result of contact with chemicals used at his place of work, a vehicle radiator company, in 2016.
In a statement issued afterward, Nxesi said the incident was not reported by his employer, contrary to the rules of the Compensation Fund, and they offered him no assistance. “Indeed, it seems that he was fired after decades of service, and he’s been unemployed for three years.
“First, I would like to express our heartfelt sympathies, as the department of employment and labour and the Compensation Fund, for the injustice that Mr Mabuza has suffered, and to assure him that the department and the fund are urgently investigating his case with a view to rapidly processing his compensation claim, as well as that of Mr [Thabo] Majola who we visited yesterday [Saturday],” Nxesi said.
“We would also like to flag the important role played by media in exposing these injustices. In the case of Mr Majola, he suffered serious burns at work [reportedly in 2008] and again received no assistance from his employer, who tried to shuffle off responsibility onto the labour brokers involved,” he said.
Earlier this year, the department and the Compensation Fund launched a campaign to encourage those who had suffered workplace accidents or diseases, and where claims were not processed, to report this to Labour Centres located throughout the country.
“I believe that the recent media coverage of the two cases will inspire others to come forward with their details to our Labour Centres,” Nxesi said.
It was impossible to place an inspector in every workplace, and the department therefore relied on the activism of shop stewards and the public, as well as the goodwill of responsible employers.
“However, I will be announcing in my budget vote speech this week that during this financial year the department will augment its occupational health and safety team of inspectors with an additional 500 officers. I trust this will go a long way to strengthening occupational health and safety in the workplace,” Nxesi said.