Allan Seccombe’s article Mines seek new pay negotiation methods was first published in Business Day and BDlive today.   Extracts with permission but click on either link to read the article online in BDlive [free registration required].

PLATINUM mining companies affiliated to the Chamber of Mines are looking to expedite collective bargaining amid plans to desist from negotiating wages individually with the (different) unions, Roger Baxter, a senior executive at the chamber, said on Wednesday.

The chamber is also making suggestions to a judicial commission of inquiry set up to investigate the death of 44 people at Lonmin’s Marikana mine.

“We are providing input as are other stakeholders into the terms of reference so that it’s as robust as possible.   It’s important that the terms of reference reflect a broader look at the challenges and issues we face on this particular example,” said Mr Baxter on a conference call organised by Bank of America Merrill Lynch to discuss labour issues on South Africa’s mines.

“The fact that we have certain components of local governments that are very short on the capacity side to implement and engage on putting in place measures to help local communities is one example of why we haven’t seen as much progress as we’d have liked,” he said.   Miners had spent more than R1.4bn on community investment projects and R4bn on skills investment in the past year, he said.

Mr Baxter’s comments came on the same day as Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said she had raised concerns that aspects of the Mining Charter, which governs mining companies’ obligations to communities and labour, had been inadequately implemented.

“Whereas this is not the time for us to be pointing fingers, let me re-emphasise that the mining industry cannot grow sustainably unless it can claim its legitimacy to its host jurisdictions, employees and host communities,” she said at the Africa Down Under mining conference in Perth, Australia.