19 May, 2015On 13 May, 15 miners died after being trapped in a flooded gold mine in Riosucio, Colombia. After either an explosion inside the mine or cut-off the electricity supply, the pumps stopped working and the mine was flooded. Mine owner, Leonardo Mejía, said that 15 of the 80 miners working in the mine were killed.
IndustriALL Global Union has approached senior government authorities on several occasions to draw their attention to the unsafe conditions in the mines and the consequent loss of thousands of human lives and demanded greater enforcement and effective safety measures.
Although Colombia has signed ILO Convention 176 on mine safety, the government has failed to comply with its duty to introduce implementing legislation.
Furthermore, miners are not protected by even the minimum health and safety measures. They suffer from many occupational diseases but employers do not recognize them as such or even accept this is a high risk occupation because this would mean they would have to pay higher social security contributions.
There are many accidents every year but the authorities always claim that the mines are operating legally. However, the emergency services almost always establish that the explosions are caused by methane gas emissions in the tunnels.
IndustriALL is very concerned about the frequency of such mining accidents and is therefore organizing a global campaign for countries like Colombia to ratify the ILO Convention and ensure the proper management of health and safety in the mines in order to avoid more deaths and occupational diseases.