Mining Indaba: Labour experts warn against excluding labour unions amid industry tensions

EWN reports that Labour experts at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town have warned that it’s bad for businesses to lock labour unions out as tensions in the industry persist. The latest warning comes hot on the heels of several disruptive strikes seen by the industry last year. This includes hostage dramas that gripped the Gold One Modder East operations in Springs, as well as sit-ins at Blyvoor Gold Mine in the West Rand.

Long-standing tensions between unions and mining firms in the platinum and gold sectors have persisted for several years. Wage disputes and poor working conditions have been at the centre of some of the most detrimental of these conflicts. While the 2012 Marikana Massacre where 34 miners were killed is thought to have been the tipping point, more recent tensions have also left the industry on edge.

Senior executive at the Minerals Council Nikisi Lesufi said labour policy needs to be constantly reviewed to keep up with evolving dynamics and demands. “If in the past, the closed-shop agreement was a fundamental tool in terms of maintaining industrial peace and also taking into account the freedom of association, those developments because of the multiplicity of union representation may have been overtaken by time and it’s high time that we review that.”

by Nokukhanya Mntambo

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