Mineral resources & energy minister Gwede Mantashe has published draft amendments to the mineral and petroleum regulations for comment. Not for the first time, his call for comments comes just before the holiday period, when investors and management in the industry are on leave.

I was shocked to see that the minister is trying to change the labour legislation through the back door. The Labour Relations Act, in particular section 189, is already harsh on employers. The process and structure of the consultation process before a dismissal for operational requirements can take place is complex. This process can take three months and in essence already retards an employer’s ability to move quickly in a situation of loss-making.

Now Mantashe wants to add a further layer of consultation (negotiation?) to the mix. The reality is that if these amendments go through it will add a further harsh burden on employers. Employers in the mining industry will be forced to keep employees in situations where they are not needed or have become too expensive. This means that to avoid the process employers would be well advised to mechanise, computerise and outsource.

Mining the world over is experiencing jobless growth. The SA mining industry is still a big employer, but the ministry is seemingly doing its utmost to change that.

Michael Bagraim, MP
DA shadow employment and labour minister

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