Changes in S.Africa's labour laws in light of platinum strikes - CNBC Africa

Changes in S.Africa's labour laws in light of platinum strikes


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The platinum strike has gone on for about 18 weeks. PHOTO: Jay Caboz/ Forbes Africa

“There’s a lot of lessons to be learned from this and certainly from a government point of view, labour laws need to be looked at. We would probably need some legislation regarding the length that a strike can take so that it’s not an indefinite strike that you enter into,” Treasury One director and client relationship manager Andre Cilliers told  

“The strike should be a protest against something you are not happy with, like wages, but there should be a time limit to it and people should return to work while the negotiations go on behind the [scenes]. In the months to come, there could be some changes in labour legislation regarding strikes.”

(READ MORE: Contextual analysis necessary for new labour legislation)

Cilliers said this after it was reported that the new Mineral Resources Minister, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, had embarked on a number of consultative engagements with key stakeholders in South Africa’s mining sector.

Ramatlhodi also announced the establishment of an intergovernmental technical team to work with labour and business to resolve the strike in the North-West platinum belt.

The task team includes officials from the departments of mineral resources, labour and the National Treasury. Ramatlhodi has engaged with the CEOs of [DATA LON:Lonmin],[DATA IMP:Impala Platinum] and [DATA AMS:Anglo American Platinum], the Chamber of Mines and labour unions as well.

“The mandate of the technical team is to broaden the approach and explore all possibilities for a resolution to the problem. They will interrogate all the information, including the figures provided by both parties, and report back by the end of the day on what is possible,” Ramatlhodi said.

(READ MORE: Platinum strikes could drive S.Africa into a recession)

“All parties are hurting. The workers are hurting. We have no option but to find an amicable solution.”

Cilliers believes that the process initiated by the minister is one that is needed but also one that must be looked at with neutrality.

“That’s the engagement that’s required because it’s been going on for such a long time. I only have one technical problem – the minister feels that the mining companies have not done enough. If you’re going to go and mediate, then you should go in without taking the sides of either party beforehand,” he said.

“We will see progress but it’s going to be slow progress. Steps are being made in the right direction but it’s not going to be a quick solution.”

Ramatlhodi appointed a government team on Wednesday to try and resolve the wage stoppage by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union at the world's top platinum producers. The team will meet the companies and union on Thursday at an undisclosed location.