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'Judge… if I may just check for any Whatsapp messages…'

There have been “lots of firsts” as the Association of Construction and Mineworkers Union presented its case to the Labour Court in South Africa via a video conferencing app, seeking binding regulations to protect mineworkers from COVID-19.
'Judge… if I may just check for any Whatsapp messages…' 'Judge… if I may just check for any Whatsapp messages…' 'Judge… if I may just check for any Whatsapp messages…' 'Judge… if I may just check for any Whatsapp messages…' 'Judge… if I may just check for any Whatsapp messages…'

The AMCU presented its case via a video conferencing app

Staff reporter

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"Lots of firsts in AMCU's Labour Court application today," Johan Lorenzen, an associate at Richard Spoor Attorneys which is representing the AMCU, tweeted.

"Judge, those are my submissions but if I may just check for any Whatsapp messages from my learned friend…"

The AMCU took legal action last week, saying the lack of binding regulations would jeopardise the health of 250,000 mineworkers as mines were allowed to ramp up to a 50% workforce capacity during the country's Level 5 lockdown, which ends today.

Some of the named respondents have signalled support for further regulation.

Minerals Council South Africa said this week it was "not averse" to the regulation of workplaces in terms of COVID-19 directives and regulations. 

Minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs Dr Dlamini Zuma indicated she did not oppose the AMCU's application to compel resources minister Gwede Mantashe to use the Mine Health and Safety Act to protect workers from Covid-19, Lorenzen said.

The ministers weren't opposed to putting interim measures in place but opposed the AMCU in that it hadn't shown evidence employers weren't already protecting workers, their lawyer Mark Wesley told the court, according to a local media reports.

The case is set to resume today.

South Africa shifts to Level 4 restrictions from tomorrow, which keeps a ban on alcohol, gatherings and international travel, and permits limited economic activity including allowing "open-cast" mining to ramp up to 100%, while other mines must remain at 50%.