Mine retrenchments could be cut by 60%, says Solidarity

Retrenchments in the South African mining industry could be reduced by 40% to 60%, Solidarity deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann said on Thursday.

Reporting back on the progress being made by the Mining Industry Growth Development and Employment Task Team, Herman said several short-term solutions to the crisis had been identified.

It was suggested that all role-players and suppliers in the mining industry aim to reduce pricing pressure to keep mines viable and to ensure job security.

The role that could be played by local developmental funding institutions was encouraged since liquidity in international markets has become more difficult to access.

Mines were also encouraged to increase production without jeopardising safety.

Appointed at the beginning of the month, the task team’s aim is to prevent retrenchments, reduce the number of retrenchments and to try and manage their effects.

The task team consists of representatives of the Department of Minerals and Energy, the Chamber of Mining, the South African Mining Development Association as well as the trade unions Solidarity and the National Union of Mineworkers.

This week’s notice by Aquarius Platinum that it would cut up to 2 000 jobs at its Everest mine brought to the number of job cuts announced by the mining industry to more than 14 000 in the past six months.

The National Union of Mineworkers spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka told Business Day that potential retrenchments in the industry could rise to 32 000 when those announced at Simmer & Jack, Lonmin, DRDGold and Metorex were included.

But short of securing an industry moratorium on job losses, the task team has been forced to find other ways to mitigate the impact of the job cuts.

Among the alternatives to retrenchments discussed by the task team were internal transfers and redeployment, temporary retrenchment with conditions for re-employment, extended Christmas leave, shorter working weeks, as well as cost-cutting by constraining bonuses, including those of management.

Where retrenchments are unavoidable, the task team said it was of critical importance that mining companies implement a social plan, which includes training, counselling and possible feeding schemes for affected communities.—I-Net Bridge

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