By Richard Dowden
WESTMINSTER diocese is to make one last attempt to persuade Consolidated Gold Fields Ltd to improve the working conditions and pay of their black workers in the South African mines.
The diocesan trustees, who hold more than 3,000 shares in Consolidated, have described meetings with the company as "highly unsatisfactory" and "ineffectual."
Bishop Mahon said that the shares would have already been sold but since the company had a new chairman, Lord Erroll, one more attempt was being made.
Bishop Mahon has written to him asking him For another meeting to discuss the questions of trade union rights for black workers, wages paid to black workers and the migrant labour system.
At Consolidated's annual meeting last year, Mgr Bruce Kent, who was asked by Cardinal Heenan to speak on behalf of the diocese, questioned the company on its attitude to unions, wages and the migrant labour system.
He described the replies of the then chairman, Mr J. D. McCall, as "side-stepping". Mr McCall, however, agreed to meet diocesan representatives, and since then there have been two meetings with the company — in January and May this year.
After these meetings the diocesan representatives, who
included Mgr Kent and Mr Alfred Latham-Koenig, recommended that further meetings with the company would not yield results.
The diocesan trustees point to figures given by Christian Concern for Southern Africa, an ecumenical body which monitors wages and conditions of black employees of British companies operating in South Africa.
These indicate that the gap between wages paid to black and white employees by Consolidated is widening. and that although blacks are getting more than they did five years ago, many are still being paid below the povertyline.
• ELTSA, the campaign to End Loans to South Africa, has sent out a letter to the 1,000 largest shareholders in the Midland Bank, urging them to put pressure on the bank to change its policy of lending money directly to the South African GovernMent.
The letter is signed by many national figures, including Mgr Bruce Kent of Pax Christi and War on Want, and Dr David Sheppard, the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool.