South African
Labour Minister
Mildred Oliphant
Pretoria, South Africa — 24 June 2013 – South African Labour minister Mildred Oliphant has appealed to companies, particularly in the mining sector, to finalise their upcoming wage negotiations peacefully ahead of what is known as “the strike season.”

“As the department, we have appealed to both business and organised labour, when they start their negotiations, to finalise their negotiations peacefully and as quickly as possible, she was quoted as saying at The New Age breakfast briefing.

Despite labour unrest over the past year, South Africa remained a prime investment location, Oliphant said.

Talks around establishing a framework for peace and stability in the mining sector were continuing and a labour relations indaba would be convened to look particularly at collective bargaining and strike violence.

Oliphant said centralised collective bargaining, within the framework of labour legislation, was central to preventing strike-related violence. “What happened at Marikana is precisely because the companies were negotiating as individual companies.”

Police shot dead 34 striking miners in Marikana, North West, on August 16 last year when trying to disperse them.

The Farlam Commission of Inquiry was set up to investigate the events that led to the  shooting, and the deaths of 10 people in strike-related violence there the previous week.

Oliphant said that after the violence had erupted during an unprotected strike at Lonmin’s platinum mine at Marikana, the company had given wage increases to its workers, and workers at other mines had demanded the same.

Rather, companies needed to respect the labour laws of the country as well as their own policies regarding wage negotiations. Businesses needed to refrain from negotiating with workers’ groups outside the centralised collective bargaining agreements.

Companies that could not afford to meet the negotiated wages could apply to the department for exemption. Where wage talks deadlocked, the labour department could offer help through the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration, Oliphant said.

Source: Fin24. For more information, click here.