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Mine hostels are not so bad

20 August 2012, 13:50
MINING HOSTELS NOT SO BAD
Spokespersons on SABC  TV 2 told the nation how bad the living conditions on the Lonmin mine are.  No photos or other evidence was produced to substantiate these claims.

Given the high standard of services provided in most mine hostels one cannot take these allegations too seriously.       About two years ago I worked, as an electrical contractor in the hostel complex of a well known  mining company. I had to enter about 900 rooms in the complex to install electrical heaters and thus had an up close view of the residents and their lifestyle and it was a wake-up call really.      Residents receive 3 full meals a day, fruit included and a lunch-pack to take underground.

The rooms are large and usually house 2/3 workers and neat and tidy in most cases. The hostel complex has its own worker gang which cleans up the area and hostel environs. While I was there the hostels were, too, receiving a civil makeover  which includes re-tiling and repainting the entire complex. The plumbing was also replaced entirely due to the building being about 34years old.  During the early 1980’s I have been through these hostels and even then they were in a excellent condition and maintenance.    

The mine consists of several shafts and hostel complexes and serviced by two fully equipped hospitals and  clinics. Sports grounds and soccer fields were available, tuck shops and liquor outlets too but controlled. The mine provided busses when required for distant transport while there is a taxi fleet  available. Mine security staff resided on the premises.    

The workers possessed sound equipment, televisions, expensive cell phones and all  they may desire. Most workers were unmarried and hence their income can be distributed on expensive items like cars too.     The mine had its own worker married quarters on the premises and workers were allowed to own life stock which grazed on the premises too.    

What I am trying to indicate is the standard of the hostels has improved radically since the very earlier years.      I was told that the worker has about R1000 deducted from his salary, monthly, for his boarding and lodging. The same applied to female miners who resided in a section of one of the complexes. Machine operators are reported to earn only R4000 per month but this may be so after tax and other deductions.    

A hostel system will never pass the department of labour  and union criteria were it in a shoddy state of disrepair. During the last decades much pressure has been applied to mining managements to provide a higher class of living conditions than those reported to exist on Lonmin mine.

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