Cape Town, South Africa — 29 May 2013 – South African mineral resources minister Susan Shabangu has confirmed that her department will be meeting with mining companies and trade unions soon in an effort to prevent renewed labour unrest and restore stability to the country’s mining industry.
Speaking during debate on her budget vote in the National Assembly, she insisted that South Africa could not afford to allow ongoing negative perceptions of the industry and the country to grow.
Those undermining the collective bargaining process in the mining industry should be dealt a cruel blow, said Shabangu, but Fin24 reports that she did not elaborate on who exactly she was referring to, reports Fin24.
“While we respect workers’ inalienable right to strike, and the right to the freedom of association… we will not tolerate anarchy, violence, intimidation, and illegal strikes, which threaten not just our democratic freedoms, but also the sustainable growth and employment in the mining sector,” she said.
Those who had signed the “Peace and Stability Framework”, which allows for the co-existence of labour unions in the sector, should honour this agreement, she added.
Mining bosses and unions, including rivals the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), are signatories to the framework. But since the signing, members of both unions have been killed in North West, leading to a wildcat strike at the Lonmin platinum mine this month, which has since ended.
Shabangu said that despite the violent strikes and upheavals in the industry, there was hope for growth in the sector.
“South Africa has the world’s largest mineral endowment, with an estimated value of R37 trillion,” she said.
“If these endowments are properly exploited using the combination of appropriate policies and regulatory framework such as we have, we are more than capable of breaking the back of the triple evils of poverty, unemployment, and inequality,” she added.
Shabangu also referred to wage negotiations in the mining sector, currently under way.
“This year should be no different,” she said. She called for responsible negotiations.
“Decisions taken during the talks should ensure jobs are retained and more importantly, that stability is brought to the sector,” said Shabangu. “Narrow interests had to be set aside.”
Source: Fin24. For more information, click here.