South Africa’s plan to save mining jobs

In a joint attempt to save jobs in the mining sector, the government, labour, and the mining industry have signed an agreement.

“In the face of challenging global economic conditions and the high risk of job losses facing the mining industry, I called for a retreat of leaders in the industry,” Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said yesterday.

“This retreat concluded that a tripartite technical team comprising government, business and labour must convene to develop an intervention strategy to address the challenges facing the mining industry in respect of the risk of job losses.”

The team met regularly after its first meeting on 5 August. It has identified 10 intervention areas, and has made recommendations to minimise job losses in mining.

  1. Delay the execution of retrenchments. This could allow consultations to be extended to continue during a section 189 of the Labour Relations Act notice period, to allow for the implementation of the interventions.
  • Enhance productivity and managing cost pressures to improve efficiency.
  • Accelerate concurrent rehabilitation activities to create alternative jobs for mineworkers.
  • Sell distressed and other mining assets to possibly save and create jobs at alternative operators.
  • Explore other options to avoid job losses. This will require the development of a framework for management, employees and the unions to seek solutions on a case by case basis, such as utilising the training layoff scheme or reskilling employees.
  • Provide adequate support, such as counselling, training, and obtaining Unemployment Insurance Fund payments for mineworkers when job losses are unavoidable.
  • Use the Multinational Companies’ procurement levy to support employment opportunities for retrenched mineworkers. In terms of the Mining Charter, multinational suppliers of goods to the sector must contribute towards a development fund, which could help to create alternative employment for mineworkers.
  • Streamline the processes for downscaling, updating the database and exploring fiscal instruments to enable comprehensive management of the circumstances facing mining.
  • Investment in promotion and market development – this includes joint promotional activities to help increase the demand for South Africa’s minerals.
  • Communication and implementation plan – a milestone plan has been developed and progress regarding its implementation will be communicated from time to time.

Signatories to the agreement include the Department of Mineral Resources, the Chamber of Mines, the South African Mining Development Union, National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity and Uasa.

SAinfo reporter