Workplace/Mining/Trade Unions
Miningweb, 15 October 2002, Harmony, Unions And Associations Sign HIV/Aids Programme

Harmony, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the South African Equity Workers Association (SAEWA) and the United Association of South Africa (UASA) today, pledged their support by signing an agreement which is based on the principle that HIV/AIDS is preventable and presents an opportunity to participants to make a real difference.

The objectives of the agreement include measures to reduce the number of infections among employees, their families and communities. The parties will also strive to ensure that the rights of employees living with HIV/AIDS are upheld in compliance with existing legislation.

Harmony and the unions will aim to create a conducive environment in the workplace in an attempt to deal with the epidemic constructively, and ensure that the parties remain committed to the health, safety and well being of employees.

Harmony has committed itself through the "Harmony Declares War Against HIV/AIDS" initiative, by actively seeking a management/labour partnership with community involvement.

"We are committed to the 2001Chamber of Mines Wage Agreement in partnership with trade unions and associations to develop and maintain programmes to minimise the impact of HIV/AIDS on all its stakeholders. We are jointly developing a comprehensive strategy and programme of response which will manage HIV/AIDS in the company and its surrounding communities," says Bernard Swanepoel, chief executive.

Workplace interventions will include intensive education and information programmes in respect of healthy living, HIV/AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infections and Pulmonary Tuberculosis. Pre- and post test counselling, psychotherapy and support through well-trained personnel, and the appointment of an HIV/AIDS co-ordinator from within the ranks of the unions and associations to assist in giving effect to agreements.

Harmony has also developed its own Multivitamin/mineral supplement, which is focussed on binding up the immune system. This will be made available at a nominal cost to all employees and their dependants. The company will also provide health care for affected and infected employees. Health care includes treatment at company hospitals and medical stations, voluntary counselling and testing and wellness clinics.

"Harmony undertakes to promote adherence to the Constitutional and legislative rights of our employees. Harmony will not perform pre-employment HIV/AIDS testing. We recognise that employees with HIV/AIDS are not legally required to disclose their status. The confidentiality of all employees' or prospective employees' medical information will consequently be maintained," concluded Bernard.