ACTIVIST groups supporting a legal bid by former gold sector mineworkers to bring a class action lawsuit against the entirety of the gold sector will spend much of this week protesting and picketing to highlight the impact of occupational lung disease.
Monday marks the start of a two-week hearing that may ultimately lead to a class action lawsuit against 32 gold producers. The Treatment Action Camp (TAC) and Sonke Gender Justices are planning pickets and protest marches, including a march on Tuesday in the Johannesburg city centre.
From Monday until October 23 the High Court in Johannesburg will hear arguments for and against class certification of former mineworkers in the gold sector which, if granted, could lead to the largest class action lawsuit in SA history.
Thirty-two gold mining companies are listed as respondents, while 56 class representatives, acting on behalf of thousands of former mineworkers, are seeking compensation over their contraction of silicosis and pulmonary tuberculosis after 1965.
The activist groups have pushed to be allowed to join the case, as their constituents stand to possibly benefit from the development of class action mechanisms and thus have an interest in setting legal precedents.
Some gold companies have moved to address the long-term affects of silicosis through an industry working group formed last year to address issues including access to compensation and medical care. The companies are also considering the possibility of additional funding mechanisms.
Meanwhile, the government has sought to address the disease through “One Stop Shop” medical centres for mineworkers.