6 Jul 2004

Fiji goldminers demand safety after one crushed to death

10:46 am on 6 July 2004

More than 1,600 workers at Fiji's only gold mine are demanding safer working conditions after a fellow worker was crushed to death in an accident deep underground.

Suria Narayan Reddy, who was 44, died instantly when a loader bucket fell on him in a mineshaft 1,500 metres underground on Sunday.

The general secretary of the Mineworkers Union of Fiji, Satish Chand, says 14 miners have died in accidents over the last 10 years, and numerous others have been injured.

Mr Chand says it's high time the government woke up and enforced the Occupational health and safety legislation at the mine where, he says, the Emperor Gold Mining Company is exploiting its local workers.

Mr Chand has also accused the company of forcing its workers to work underground in dangerous conditions because of many earthquakes and tremors recorded in the Tavua area in the last nine days.