The South African economy is facing a monster in the form of the high unemployment rate that keeps around 27 percent of the population on the side-lines of the country’s economic activity.

The mining sector, which employs an estimated 500 000 people, is not an exception to the jobs blood bath. The industry is currently facing a monster in the form of section 189 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA). The section allows an employer to dismiss employees for operational requirements or reasons. A portion of subsection two stipulates that, “the employer and the other consulting parties must… engage in a meaningful joint consensus-seeking process and attempt to reach consensus on appropriate measures to avoid the dismissals [and] to minimise the number of dismissals”. Yet, during the period 2012 to 2017, some 70 000 mineworkers lost their jobs.

 

The Department of Mineral Resource is failing workers

The loss of this many jobs speaks directly to the persisting socio-economic ills, and one of the reason the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) is taking to the streets of South Africa on 20 March 2018.

Addressing the media at a briefing held to announce the strike, AMCU’s President Joseph Mathunjwa said AMCU had filed a section 77 notice to the National Economic Development Labour Council with the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) as the respondent. Section 77 of the LRA gives the right to trade union formations to engage in protected industrial action regarding socioeconomic matters which are of broader public and class interest.

“It highlighted a series of regulatory shortcomings on the side of the DMR. AMCU showed how these regulatory failures led to a variety of socio-economic ills such as unemployment, poverty and inequality in the South African society. These three core challenges, we argued, are made even worse by the mass retrenchments of the past years and specifically during the latter part of 2017,” said President Mathunjwa.

The President also said popular research indicated that between five to 10 next-of-kin benefit from a single salary in the mining sector. “We can all do the calculations of the real effect of job losses in the mining sector. And, if we don’t do something quickly, it looks like more is yet to come.”

 

The marches will he held in Pretoria, Welkom, Durban and Polokwane. Led by President Joseph Mathunjwa in the capital city, and the Union’s National Executive leaders in Free State, Limpopo and Kwa-Zulu Natal, the marches will start at 9am, ending in the afternoon with the delivery of a memorandum to the Minister of Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe.

The memorandum will also be delivered to DMR offices.

 

19 March 2018