Working Conditions in De Beers diamond mines - Finsch

I had some difficulty in getting into Finsch despite the Union telling De Beers they wanted to bring me in. However I did manage to quietly enter. I wondered if there was something De Beers was hiding. If there was anything, then I think it was the camp for "sub-contracted" workers concealed deep within mine property. What I witnessed here was a system that De Beers commenced after democracy came to South Africa and which it has since been extending throughout its mines. The miners at Kleinzee had been warned they would be next - and were dreading its introduction.
It is basically a system by which De Beers increases its profits by slashing the pay received by the miners to one quarter to one half of the bare minimum agreed with the Union - in other words to a level where they cannot possibly support a family.

It does this by employing sub-contracted labour supplied by Sub-contractors (often white mineworkers). They alleged that thy have to go to work in unsafe conditions - as De Beers says it is not responsible for them. They also told me they run a great risk of being sacked if they join the union.
This is one of the buildings in which they live inside De Beers security perimeter. Its floor was so rotten that bed legs went through it - forcing the miners to put their matresses on the floor.

The subcontracted mineworkers and their accomodation within Finsch Mine.

The mine-workers have to buy their food at the very poorly provided shop on mine-property. They can only afford the very basic and cheapest items. as can be seen from the nearly empty shelves. There was no sign of fresh food.

The cooking facility in one of these huts


Typical subcontracted diamond mineworker's accomodation.


Click here to go on to the Koffiefontein De Beers diamond mine.

Here for De Beers Klienzee diamond mine.

Here for diamond mineworkers in and around Kimberley

and to many other photos of life inside a diamond miners hostel

Here for the Children who cut Diamonds for 25c a stone -in slavery as defined by the UN

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c2002 Janine Roberts

All Photographs are by Janine Roberts c2002 All Rights Reserved