http://www.engineeringnews.co.za
  SEARCH
Login
R/€ = 13.73Change: -0.02
R/$ = 11.04Change: -0.08
Au 1184.65 $/ozChange: -7.25
Pt 1216.20 $/ozChange: -3.30
 
 
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 Contact 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|Nuclear|Platinum|Resources|System|Africa|Lesotho|Mozambique|South Africa|Mining|Nuclear|Platinum Mining Operations|Service|Transport|Eastern Cape|Msikaba River|Mthatha River|RDOs|Gavin Hartford|Operations|Eastern Cape
|Africa|Fire|Industrial|Nuclear|Platinum|Resources|System|Africa||Mining|Nuclear|Service|Transport||||Operations|
johannesburg|africa-company|esop-shop|fire|industrial|lonmin|nuclear-company|platinum|resources|system|africa|lesotho|mozambique|south-africa|mining|nuclear-industry-term|platinum-mining-operations|service|transport-industry-term|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)
 
© Reuse this



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
© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other Mining News
Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown
Updated 4 hours ago Electricity utility Eskom has indicated that there is a "high risk" of load shedding over the weekend, entrenching a pattern of rotational power cuts that first emerged after a coal silo collapsed at the Majuba power station at the beginning of November. Weekends,...
Updated 3 hours ago Diamond developer Kimberley Diamonds has received environmental authorization for its Lerala mine, in Botswana. The Botswana Department of Environmental Affairs has approved and completed the transfer of the previously approved environmental impact assessment from...
More
 
 
Latest News
WTO director general Roberto Azevêdo
Updated 1 hour 40 minutes ago The World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Thursday adopted the Bali trade reform package, putting the organisation’s negotiations back on track, WTO director general Roberto Azevêdo said. The 160 WTO members on Thursday took three decisions –clarifying the Bali Decision...
Zimbabwe Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa
Updated 1 hour 44 minutes ago Zimbabwe expects lacklustre economic growth next year, hit by a lack of foreign investment, low commodity prices, a liquidity crunch in the financial sector and weak domestic savings, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said on Thursday. In his 2015 budget to...
Barack Obama
Updated 2 hours 53 minutes ago Barack Obama last year told a cheering crowd in Cape Town that a $7-billion plan to "Power Africa" would double electricity output on the world's poorest continent and bring "light where currently there is darkness". A year later, the US president's flagship project...
More
 
 
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
 
 
 
 
 
This Week's Magazine
As the City of Ekurhuleni continues its bid to develop the largely industrialised metropole into the continent’s first aerotropolis, executive mayor Mondli Gungubele has committed the city to creating a predictable, stable and enabling business environment in which...
While Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) did not have “significant issues” with power supply in Gauteng, it was a different story in the Eastern Cape, said FMCSA and American Chamber of Commerce in South Africa president Jeff Nemeth earlier this month....
In 2000, exports into Africa from South Africa represented less than 5% of the turnover of Federal Mogul Motorparts Africa, with sales largely centred around Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. Today, African exports represent 30% of sales, with trade expanded...
The Malawi government has launched a $50-million project to upgrade the Kamuzu barrage, on the Shire river, an outlet of Lake Malawi, which is used to control the flow of water from the lake to the lower Shire area. The project will run from this year to 2017 and...
  Our new Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges will replace the Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges which have served us for the past twenty years.  The buildings will be the same and most of the staff will be the same but as the...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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