http://www.engineeringnews.co.za
  SEARCH
Login
R/€ = 17.16Change: -0.15
R/$ = 15.03Change: -0.12
Au 1278.45 $/ozChange: 1.63
Pt 1062.50 $/ozChange: 1.00
 
 
Note: Search is limited to the most recent 250 articles. Set date range to access earlier articles.
Where? With... When?








Start
 
End
 
 
And must exclude these words...
Close Main Search
Close Main Login
My Profile News Alerts Newsletters Logout Close Main Profile
 
Agriculture   Automotive   Chemicals   Competition Policy   Construction   Defence   Economy   Electricity   Energy   Environment   ICT   Metals   Mining   Science and Technology   Services   Trade   Transport & Logistics   Water  
What's On Press Office Tenders Suppliers Directory Research Jobs Announcements Letters About Us
 
 
 
RSS Feed
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
 
 
Oct 08, 2012

Migrant labour system lies at heart of mine unrest – Hartford

Back
Johannesburg|Africa|Esop Shop|Fire|Industrial|Lonmin|Mining|Nuclear|Paper|Platinum|Resources|System|transport|Africa|Lesotho|Mozambique|South Africa|Platinum Mining Operations|Service|Eastern Cape|Msikaba River|Mthatha River|RDOs|Gavin Hartford|Operations|Eastern Cape
|Africa|Fire|Industrial|Mining|Nuclear|Paper|Platinum|Resources|System|transport|Africa||Service||||Operations|
johannesburg|africa-company|esop-shop|fire|industrial|lonmin|mining|nuclear|paper|platinum|resources|system|transport|africa|lesotho|mozambique|south-africa|platinum-mining-operations|service|eastern-cape|msikaba-river|mthatha-river|rdos|gavin-hartford|operations|eastern-cape-province-or-state
Download PDF
Download a copy of Gavin Hartford's report (0.40 MB)
 



JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The migrant labour system, which has remained largely unaltered in the post-apartheid period, lies at the heart of the South African mining industry’s current economic and social crisis, says The Esop Shop CEO Gavin Hartford in an 11-page paper.

The industrial sociologist advocates a radical re-think of the future of migrant labour, collective bargaining and the manager/employee interface in the mining industry, which he charges with remaining a prisoner of its apartheid past by continuing to impose a punishing yearly work cycle that spawns social evils.

The migratory conditions have led, he says, to a double economic burden, driven by the “living-out allowance”, which resulted in most migrant employees living in newly constructed, zinc shacks in Rustenburg's platinum belt.

These effective secondary homes, adds Hartford, are typically characterised by the acquisition of a second or third wife - a dinyatsi - plus additional accommodation expenses associated with “living out”.

While this new socioeconomic condition adds significantly to the wage pressure, the collective bargaining processes and institutions failed to see the signs of discontent.

Notwithstanding annualised real wage increases, the migrant mineworkers became significantly worse off, particularly in respect of the actual amount of money sent back to their rural homes.

No post-apartheid attempt has been made to pursue best practice that rebuilds the migrant miner's nuclear family through shorter work cycles.

This, Hartford hypothesises, is the Achilles heel that propelled in particular the striking rock-drill operators (RDOs), who do the toughest, most dangerous, core function and have long-standing perceptions of relative under payment.

The RDOs, who are overwhelmingly migrant and functionally illiterate, are primarily from the Lusikisiki/Flagstaff area of the Eastern Cape but also taking in most of Pondoland, from the Mthatha river in the south to the Msikaba river in the north.

They have long service, are typically 45 to 55 years of age and have generally gained the least from post-apartheid South Africa.

The migrant labour system - the double family burden carried by many migrant workers - together with their working conditions being of the most physically demanding and dangerous, has further inspired migrants to go to the forefront of the strike wave.

All of these socioeconomic features provide a contextual tinderbox to fuel the fire of mineworker anger, says Hartford.

The Labour Relations Act gave statutory legitimacy to collective bargaining institutions, with the negotiating parties leading themselves into an illusionary co-dependent comfort zone characterised by material benefits to labour union representatives; heavy management reliance on union-driven, collective processes which trumped any real and sustained direct employee engagement, and little actual verification of on-the-ground union constituency-based accountability to its membership.

There was growing production management disownership of employee communications in favour of reliance on human resources and unions to drive communication to employees, with almost a complete absence of independent verification of employee sentiment and views.

Hartford asserts that the striking workers have been the victims of a wage bargaining practice that has left them alienated from their union and the company.

The wage bargaining has been characterised by percentage-based wage adjustments where the senior employees in the bargaining unit get a percentage or two less than the junior entry-level employees.

While this percentage adjustment practice made optical sense in that the senior employees at the top received a percentage less than the most junior employees at the bottom, the actual rand and cents outcome was the opposite.

In reality, year on year for the last decade or more, the actual rands and cents cash reward for the bottom was significantly less than for those in the upper echelons of the bargaining unit. Wage stratification inside the bargaining unit, between the top and the bottom, grew, which left the low-paid migrant vulnerable and angry.

Hartford proposes that a new migratory labour model be founded on human dignity, shorter work cycles within continuous operations, significant pay rewards in a flat remuneration structure and modern living quarters for migrants, underpinned by an efficient migrant commuter transport network.

Freedom of association, worker democracy and union accountability needs to be deepened and line management functions transformed.

At the centre of this “back to basics” transformation, Hartford concludes, is the need to elevate human dignity, in both word and deed, to the centre of a new South African mining dispensation.

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter

To subscribe email subscriptions@creamermedia.co.za or click here
To advertise email advertising@creamermedia.co.za or click here
 
Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Latest News
Updated 17 minutes ago Safeguard duties, in addition to the 10% protection already introduced on a range of steel products entering South Africa, “remain critical in the short term to ensure the future sustainability of primary steel production”, ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA) said on...
Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel
Updated 57 minutes ago Economic Development Minister, Ebrahim Patel, on Thursday welcomed commitments between the Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) merger parties – SABMiller Plc, the Coca-Cola Company and Gutsche Family Investments – as well as the South African government. According to...
Updated 1 hour 3 minutes ago Eleven African countries are considering building nuclear power plants over the next 14 years to overcome the continent’s extreme electricity shortage. Outside South Africa, the entire installed generation capacity of Sub-Saharan Africa was now just 28 GW –...
More
 
 
Recent Research Reports
Energy Roundup – May 2016 (PDF Report)
The May 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for April 2016 and includes details of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa’s proposal to introduce a coal benchmark cost as part of its final decision on Eskom’s multiyear price determination...
Automotive 2016: A review of South Africa's automotive sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Automotive 2016 Report provides an overview of South Africa’s automotive industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into local demand and production, vehicle imports and exports, investment and competitiveness in the sector, as well...
Energy Roundup – April 2016 (PDF Report)
The April 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for March 2016 and includes details of a North Gauteng High Court Judge’s dismissal of a court application to postpone the 9.4% electricity tariff increase, which the National Energy Regulator of South...
Electricity 2016: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2016 report provides an overview of South Africa’s electricity sector, focusing on State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Energy Roundup – March 2016 (PDF Report)
The March 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for February 2016 and includes details of the Department of Energy’s plans to announce the preferred bidders for the first tranche of the coal independent power producer procurement programme; the Council...
Steel 2016: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2016 Report examines South Africa’s steel industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the global steel market and and particularly into South South Africa’s steel sector, including production and consumption, main...
 
 
 
 
 
This Week's Magazine
Following the drop in commodity prices and China’s demand for Africa’s resources, African economies were slumping and gross domestic product growth was stagnating in most of the continent’s emerging markets, said the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, or...
The New Development Bank, a multilateral lender formerly known as the Brics Development Bank, will provide $811-million in a first round of loans for clean energy projects in four nations.
South African car and bakkie exports into Africa declined for the third year in a row in 2015, falling from 79 228 units in 2012, to 77 589 units in 2013, 60 189 units in 2014, and 41 446 units last year – this according to the Automotive Industry Export Council’s...
Networking systems multinational Cisco is training 75 people as part of a pilot project to develop specialist networking skills in South Africa, says Cisco South Africa CTO Vernon Thaver. The trainees were nominated by and selected from Cisco’s local partners and...
The threat landscape is changing, along with technologies, impacting on new fields, such as industrial infrastructure, which is becoming increasingly connected. Smart cities are also developing fast through connected devices, Web services and cloud solutions, but...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alert Close
Embed Code Close
content
Research Reports Close
Research Reports are a product of the
Research Channel Africa. Reports can be bought individually or you can gain full access to all reports as part of a Research Channel Africa subscription.
Find Out More Buy Report
 
 
Close
Engineering News
Completely Re-Engineered
Experience it now. Click here
*website to launch in a few weeks
Subscribe Now for $149 Close
Subscribe Now for $149