HomeGoldSix-day working week under fire

Six-day working week under fire

Gold Fields’
South Deep mine
London, England — MININGREVIEW.COM — 08 February 2010 – Gold Fields Limited “’ Africa’s second- largest producer of the metal “’ is unlikely to improve efficiency by moving to a six-day working week because the productivity of miners will wane as fatigue sets in.

This is the opinion of Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Capital Markets. “I don’t think a six-day work week will work,” RBC mining analyst Leon Esterhuizen said here in an e-mailed response to questions. “The fact is that this is a very bad working environment and people that do this work really need the two days off.”

Gold Fields revealed last week that it had started talks with labour unions about a longer working week to help make up production lost because of Christmas and Easter holidays, and due to safety and other stoppages. “The aim is to improve efficiency and avoid possible job cuts,” the company said in a statement.

Responding to criticism, Gold Fields spokesman Julian Gwillim said by phone from Johannesburg that worker fatigue might not be a major concern because under the proposed plan, miners would work five shifts fewer every 14 weeks than under the current model, while earning the same.

Gold Fields missed its production target in the second quarter after some of its mines had been temporarily closed after six workers had been killed in fatal accidents.

“We are in support of the 6-day working week as long as there are no job losses,” said, Solidarity labour union spokesman Reint Dykema by mobile phone. “With electricity prices going up and safety stoppages, some marginal mines are under pressure, and as a union we must be proactive and protect our members.”