http://www.engineeringnews.co.za
  SEARCH
Login
R/€ = 14.00Change: 0.01
R/$ = 10.66Change: -0.03
Au 1286.61 $/ozChange: -0.89
Pt 1424.00 $/ozChange: -2.00
 
 
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 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|Eastern Cape
|Africa|Fire|Industrial|Nuclear|Platinum|Resources|System|Africa||Mining|Nuclear|Service|Transport||||
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|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
Smiling teacher Selby Nkwanyana with pupil Nontsikelelo Kalashe
Updated 1 hour 33 minutes ago Anglo American company Kumba Iron Ore on Monday opened a sun-powered Internet school in the black township of Tembisa. The initiative, at Jiyana Secondary School, is the first of four such projects to better education, feed pupils and produce cooking gas from...
Updated 2 hours ago Rand Refinery has confirmed to Mining Weekly Online that members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), who represent about 35% of the total workforce, have embarked on a protected strike at the company’s Germiston-based plant. This followed...
Updated 7 hours ago Pursuant to its supply agreement with Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), International Ferro Metals (IFM) said on Monday that it had received 20 000 t of upper group two (UG2) chrome concentrate supply in August, ahead of its previous expectations for the month. The...
More
 
 
Latest News
Updated 7 minutes ago Statistics released by the Department of Trade and Industry on Monday, showed that August new vehicle sales declined by 1.4%, to 55 722 units, compared with the same month last year. Assisted by the car rental market, the South African new passenger car market, at 37...
Updated 7 minutes ago The 14 350 km Sat-3/Wasc/Safe cable system connecting Europe to the west coast of Africa has been successfully upgraded, doubling the system capacity. The fourth upgrade, undertaken by Alcatel-Lucent and the Sat-3/Wasc/Safe consortium, which includes Telkom, had seen...
Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko
Updated 45 minutes ago As telecommunications group Telkom continued the turnaround that raised its share price from R11 a few years ago to the current R55 a share, the previously beleaguered group aimed to play a significant role in the provision of broadband to all South Africans....
More
 
 
Recent Research Reports
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...
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.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
 
 
 
 
 
This Week's Magazine
South African State-owned defence industrial group Denel has announced its fourth consecutive year of profits. The group's results for the financial year 2013/2014 were recently announced at its head office in Centurion, south of Pretoria. Revenues grew by 17%, net...
There is little opportunity for JSE-listed infrastructure company Group Five to grow shareholder value in the domestic market, says CEO Mike Upton. He says value can still be found in the private sector, in the renewable and industrial power sector, as well as in...
The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) has announced the event dates of the 2015 Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS). The event will take place from October 14 to October 25, 2015, at the Johannesburg Expo Centre, Nasrec.
UK engineering support services provider Babcock is set to deliver the largest order of global truck manufacturer DAF’s truck tractors in Southern Africa to bulk carrier road-based logistics company Ngululu Bulk Carriers (NBC), with 133 trucks to be delivered in...
Digital radio communications in the African local government space can open up the world, but have many challenges to overcome, notes integration and migration of legacy radio communications infrastructure with digital mobile radio company Emcom Wireless head of...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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