Employment  relations

Employment relations provides service excellence to our members in the field of employment relations, with respect to labour legislation and regulation, as well as collective bargaining.

Critical team members

  • Dr Elize Strydom: Senior Executive, Employment Relations
  • Motsamai Motlhamme: Head, Employment Relations
  • Erissa Martin: Policy Analyst, Employment Relations

Context

The origins of collective bargaining in the mining industry go back as far as 1915, when, for the first time, the Chamber of Mines was assigned the role of negotiating for members with employee organisations.

This is a practice that continues today in the gold and coal sectors, where the Chamber operates by virtue of agreements between the participants and established practice (it is not a statutory bargaining council system), with flexibility being its most striking feature.

The agreements that are reached centrally, frequently reflect different provisions for different companies, particularly in respect of wage rates (differentiated basic wage rates are negotiated for companies linked to factors such as sustainability). When it comes to non-wage issues, however, there is usually much uniformity in outcomes. A further feature of the process is that not all issues are dealt with at centralised level: bargaining on basic wages and conditions of employment take place at a Chamber of Mines of South Africa level, while bargaining on organisational, operational and workplace issues are conducted at mine or company level. It frequently happens that framework agreements are formulated at the centre, leading to further negotiations on the issue concerned taking place at company or mine level.

The labour relations climate in South Africa has changed dramatically in recent years, with the emergence of new unions. In addition to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and Uasa, recent years have seen the rise of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and, to a lesser degree, NUMSA, in this sector. The Chamber has adopted an even-handed approach when negotiating with the unions.

Key activities

  • Providing specialist expertise and advisory input in employment relations and labour market issues.
  • Formulating and mandating industry policies and position papers on issues that will impact on the mining industry in particular and employers generally.
  • Conducting centralised wage negotiations for the gold and coal sectors.
  • Facilitating interaction between Human Resources and Employment Relations representatives of member companies, principally through a standing committee known as the Labour Policy Committee.
  • Representing members and mining interests in various key forums, NEDLAC and the Mining Industry Sector Partnership Committee as a few examples.
  • Playing an active and leading role within the structures of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) to ensure that mining interests are fully taken into account by that body.
  • On-going interaction with the leadership of the unions in the mining sector.

External bodies

The Employment Relations team serves on a number of bodies to ensure that the interests of the mining industry are well represented in key policy formulating and advocacy forums, including:

  • Mining Industry Growth Development and Employment Task Team (MIGDETT)
  • Technical Task Team of the President’s Framework Agreement for a Sustainable Mining Industry
  • Business Unity South Africa (BUSA)
  • National Economic Development & Labour Council (Nedlac)
  • Employment relations work stream of Operation Phakisa

Gold wage agreements reached in 2015

Coal wage agreement reached in 2015