Cosatu mourns the deaths of 23 workers
By Mandisi Tyulu
13 November 2008
The Congress of South African Trade Unions is shocked and angry at the death of at least 23 workers between Bushbuckridge and Dwarsloop in Mpumalanga, when the open truck on which they we being transported to work collided with a KFC truck.
21 forestry workers and both drivers are known to have died and nine are seriously injured in hospital.
Cosatu sends condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives and best wishes for a full recovery to those in hospital.
The union says this tragedy highlights once again the scandal of workers being taken to and from work on the back of open trucks, with no protection. In this case forestry workers were standing in the vehicle and police say that local villagers told them that this truck usually carries 60 and that more bodies might be hidden under the wreckage.
COSATU’s Patrick Craven says, we welcomes and supports the statement by the Automobile Association that they are considering challenging the government to change the legislation that allows people to be transported on the back of open vehicles, because these accidents almost always lead to fatalities.
Craven added that, this is what the federation has been saying for years and that it is totally inconsistent that passengers in cars are, quite rightly, obliged by law to wear seat-belts, while passengers in a much more dangerous position on the back of an open truck can be transported without any protection. It has led to repeated accidents, most of them fatal and many involving multiple deaths.
“When the passengers are workers, they have no alternative means of getting to work and cannot risk their livelihood by refusing to travel on the trucks. That is why COSATU demands that the law must be changed and rigidly enforced, so that employers are forced to use safe forms of transport.”