The Congress of South African Trade Unions welcomes the Framework Agreement for a Sustainable Mining Industry, signed by organised labour (with the exception of Nactu and Amcu), organised business and government on 3 July 2013. [See the full text below].
The parties to the agreement acknowledged that there are serious problems within our mining industry, both long-term and short-term.
COSATU fully endorses the Agreement's view that “The South African mining industry is central to our economy and job creation” and that we must “work together to ensure the sustainability of the mining sector for the future of our country and our people.”
On the one hand, the industry's problems are historical and structural - exploitation of workers, the migrant labour system, unhealthy and dangerous working conditions, squalid single-sex hostels, environmental pollution and many more.
But on the other hand we face an immediate crisis of violence and anarchy in and around the mines which has already cost far too many lives and it still is putting lives in danger.
It is vital to see all sides of the problem and find solutions to them all and not look only at the immediate threat to law and order and violence. As the Agreement recognises, “workers have to see rapid changes in their working and living conditions and visibly improved career prospects. We need to take urgent steps to build integrated communities with adequate social amenities, including labour sending areas”.
COSATU agrees that “we have not reached optimal levels of transformation” and that we “therefore recommit ourselves to accelerate progress in transformation, including the areas of ownership, procurement, employment, beneficiation, human resource development as well as health and safety in line with the targets set in the Mining Charter”.
The parties agreed to improving processes and procedures and implementing new measures to bring about lasting change, while working together to sustain and improve the sector by:
1. Building a relationship amongst stakeholders that is based on trust and respect and avoiding any actions that adversely affect this relationship.
2. Committing ourselves to prevailing legislation, regulations, charters and existing agreements aimed at improving the sustainability of the sector.
3. Accelerating the process of transformation and beneficiation.
4. Ensuring the rule of law, peace and stability.
5. Bringing about the changes required for peaceful and sustained development.
6. Repositioning the mining industry to become more attractive to investors and a more meaningful contributor to job creation.
7. Responding collectively and responsibly to restore confidence.
8. Eliminating negative social and economic legacies and empowering workers.
Each party then pledged to abide by a long list of commitments, including, among many others, that:
Facilitate the acceleration of transformation in the mining sector.
Accelerate efforts to upgrade human settlements in mining towns by all spheres of government.
Accelerate implementation of processes to transform the migrant labour system.
Accelerate transformation in the industry.
Work with government and labour to identify and address factors behind workplace conflict.
Provide workers with the opportunity to acquire necessary skills, including portable skills, to ensure that workers are empowered and given opportunities.
Denounce violence and take active measures to eliminate violence and intimidation.
Help to manage workplace conflict by identifying and dealing with its root causes, and by ensuring that members know about this agreement and initiatives to bring about real change.
Desist from provocation, violence, intimidation and murder and actively discourage members from taking the law into their own hands, to prevent single incidents from spiralling out of control.
Respect the rule of law and all due processes addressing criminal activity.
To achieve all this, the police, the intelligence service and the courts must act effectively and without delay to bring those guilty of violent crimes to justice. Impunity must be rooted out and the confidence in the justice system restored. Government must implement these measures without any further delay.
All the parties are committed to report back to their members on a regular basis so as to ensure broader understanding of the progress and challenges faced. They agreed to act together to promote South Africa in the national interest.
Finally stakeholders committed themselves “to act swiftly to make this agreement work. Without abrogating the responsibilities of parties to this agreement, where challenges arise parties they will all, where necessary, meet to deal with them immediately”.
That is the crux of the problem. Signing an agreement is the easy part. Implementing it is the biggest challenge. In particular COSATU insists that the long-term solutions must be pursued with as much vigour as the short-term. It is not just a law-and-order problem, but part of the overall need to build a completely new society, in which workers receive their rightful share of the wealth that they created by their labour.
Solving the problems of the mining industry is inseparable from the urgent implementation of the 2nd phase of the transition, through a radical restructuring of our economy, to create more wealth, share that wealth in a far more egalitarian way, create decent jobs and build a society in which we can share a common heritage and achieve the non-racist, non-sexist and democratic society we all aspire to.
1.1. Since the on-set of the global financial crisis, the global economy has been going through challenging times and the global mining sector has not been immune to these problems, including South African mining operations.
1.2. The South African mining industry is central to our economy and job creation. Similarly, the rule of law and stability is a fundamental pillar of our democracy and a necessity to ensure economic and social development. We as Government, Labour and Business will work together to ensure the sustainability of the mining sector for the future of our country and our people.
1.3. We acknowledge the historical imbalances and the legacy of over a century and commit ourselves to redress these imbalances, legacies and inequalities in mining.
1.4. We recognise that the working and living conditions of many mineworkers are not optimal. Housing and community development remains a key concern. Workers have to see rapid changes in their working and living conditions and visibly improved career prospects. We need to take urgent steps to build integrated communities with adequate social amenities, including labour sending areas.
1.5. We further recognise that we have not reached optimal levels of transformation. We therefore recommit ourselves to accelerate progress in transformation, including the areas of ownership, procurement, employment, beneficiation, human resource development as well as health and safety in line with the targets set in the Mining Charter.
1.6. We recognise that the intermittent tensions in the mining industry have undermined stable labour relations, constitutional rights, equity and the rule of law.
1.7. Having stated the above, we the parties to this framework agreement agree to improving processes and procedures as well as implementing new measures that bring about lasting change, while working together to sustain and improve the sector by:
1.7.1. Building a relationship amongst stakeholders that is based on trust and respect and avoiding any actions that adversely affect this relationship.
1.7.2. Committing ourselves to prevailing legislation, regulations, charters and existing agreements aimed at improving the sustainability of the sector.
1.7.3. Accelerating the process of transformation and beneficiation.
1.7.4. Ensuring the rule of law, peace and stability.
1.7.5. Bringing about the changes required for peaceful and sustained development.
1.7.6. Repositioning the mining industry to become more attractive to investors and a more meaningful contributor to job creation.
1.7.7. Responding collectively and responsibly to restore confidence.
1.7.8. Eliminating negative social and economic legacies and empowering workers.
1.8. We commit to collective collaboration and cooperation as we can ill afford business as usual.
2. Guiding Principles
2.1. We commit to the following guiding principles:
2.1.1. Democracy requires respect for the Rule of Law by all members of our society.
2.1.2. Adherence to the processes and procedures to pursue fundamental rights in the workplace and in society generally.
2.1.3. Managers and leaders of the mining sector must ensure that appropriate capability is developed to manage people issues more constructively.
2.1.4. Transformation of the industry has to ensure that ordinary workers see a real change in their career prospects, their working conditions and their communities.
2.1.5. We can only get there if we work together, moving as fast as possible.
2.1.6. Workers, the unemployed and vulnerable groups are the biggest losers in unstable economic conditions. Our experience from the 2008 global financial crisis highlights that job losses are often difficult to reverse and that regaining market share is not easy for firms given the high levels of global competition.
2.1.7. To succeed, this agreement requires that stakeholders dedicate the necessary capacity and time; accept that economic realities constrain our decisions; and communicate their commitments as well as progress in implementation consistently and strongly to their members.
3. Roles and Commitments
3.1. Through various processes, stakeholders in mining identified their key strengths and resources as the basis for their commitments. The core task now is to ensure more coherent, urgent and visible implementation.
3.2. Government commits to:
3.2.1. Facilitate the acceleration of transformation in the mining sector.
3.2.2. Improve the effectiveness of mechanisms for legal and regulatory compliance.
3.2.3. Ensure fairness, impartiality and avoid conflict of interest in all areas of government when dealing with matters pertaining to the sector and act swiftly where these principles are violated.
3.2.4. Ensure consistency and certainty in the application and development of laws, regulations, policies, agreements and charters governing the sector.
3.2.5. Ensure that there is always a resilient framework for labour relations.
3.2.6. Accelerate efforts to upgrade human settlements in mining towns by all spheres of government.
3.2.7. Mobilise technical expertise to identify and address the basic factors underlying workplace conflict and to improve negotiations structures at all levels.
3.2.8. Support and implement initiatives that will mitigate against lower growth given the negative impact on employment creation and retention.
3.2.9. Continue to improve core infrastructure to support production growth in the sector.
3.2.10. Improve capacity to intervene effectively and increase delivery.
3.2.11. Communities will be encouraged to support improved human settlements and social cohesion and solidarity amongst all the stakeholders in the mining industry.
3.2.12. Accelerate implementation of processes to transform the migrant labour system.
3.3. Business commits to:
3.3.1. Accelerate transformation in the industry.
3.3.2. Act in a fair and impartial manner in dealing with unions and act swiftly where these principles are violated.
3.3.3. Work with government and labour to identify and address factors behind workplace conflict.
3.3.4. Improve internal security measures and consistently implement them at workplaces.
3.3.5. Negotiate in the workplace and the industry in ways that support long-term development and constructive, peaceful labour relations.
3.3.6. Assist with resources and technical support for upgrading human settlements around mining towns within the context of regulatory requirements and additional voluntary contributions.
3.3.7. Support a constructive and sustainable adaptation to the current economic realities, maintaining and growing investment, production and employment as far as possible.
3.3.8. Assist workers with financial literacy and financial planning.
3.3.9. Properly adhere to laws, regulations and charters governing the sector and consistently apply their policies and respect agreements.
3.3.10. Support the process to transform the migrant labour system.
3.3.11. Provide workers with the opportunity to acquire necessary skills, including portable skills, to ensure that workers are empowered and given opportunities.
3.4. Labour commits to:
3.4.1. Adopt an all-inclusive approach and utilise all legally available mechanisms to ensure that transformation takes place and communicate relevant information to members.
3.4.2. Help to manage workplace conflict by identifying and dealing with its root causes, and by ensuring that members know about this agreement and initiatives to bring about real change.
3.4.3. Support the changes in labour relations at the workplace and sectoral level needed for more constructive, peaceful and representative bargaining and dispute settlement.
3.4.4. Negotiate in the workplace and the industry in ways that support long-term development, and work with members to end violence and avoid stoppages.
3.4.5. Education of workers on labour relation legislation, company policies and acceptable practices for workplace conduct.
3.4.6. Work with Government and Business to improve investor sentiment.
3.4.7. Work with Government and Business in developing community and residential areas near the mines.
3.4.8. Support the process to transform the migrant labour system.
4. Ensuring rule of law, peace and stability
4.1. It is important to ensure that peace and stability prevails and that persons and property are protected so as to provide a conducive environment for development.
4.2. Parties reaffirm their commitment to the Framework for Peace and Stability in the Mining Industry that was signed on 25 February 2013.
4.3. Government commits to:
4.3.1. Act decisively to enforce the rule of law, maintain peace during strikes and other protests relating to labour disputes, ensure protection of life, property and the advancement of the rights of all citizens, including crime prevention measures.
4.3.2. Ensure that law enforcement agencies act in a manner that is fair, impartial and objective and that all care is taken to protect life and property.
4.3.3. Put in place adequate and appropriate capacity in the form of detectives and specialist prosecution teams to prosecute cases on violence, intimidation, assault and murder.
4.3.4. Prioritise the investigation and finalisation of cases arising from lawlessness in and around mining areas, in appropriate designated courts.
4.3.5. Take measures to stop the carrying of weapons during protest action or strikes.
4.3.6. Enforce municipal by-laws related to gatherings and demonstrations.
4.3.7. Establish a Mine Crime Combating Forum (MCCF) that will have representation from all stakeholders.
4.3.8. Develop protocols for security and law enforcement in mining areas together with Business and Labour.
4.4. Business commits to:
4.4.1. Take measures to protect staff members from violence and intimidation and to ensure that security personnel act in accordance with the law at all times.
4.4.2. Avoid acting in a manner that provokes or raises tensions in the workplace without abdicating their responsibility to implement laws and rules of the country and internal company policies.
4.4.3. Participate in the Mine Crime Combating Forum MCCF.
4.4.4. Take all legal steps to mitigate against unprotected labour actions.
4.4.5. Provide venues for police operations where required.
4.4.6. Work with Government and Labour in developing protocols for security and law enforcement in mining areas.
4.4.7. Where possible, inform police of all planned and unplanned strikes and protests.
4.4.8. Enforce the principle of no carrying or harbouring of any weapons (as defined in the Dangerous Weapons Act) on company property at any time in line with existing laws of the country.
4.5. Labour commits to:
4.5.1. Support on-going interventions that would address workplace conflict and build cordial industrial relations at a sector and firm level.
4.5.2. Denounce violence and take active measures to eliminate violence and intimidation.
4.5.3. Work with law enforcement authorities to prevent labour disputes from becoming violent; including informing the police timeously of any protest or strike action that could potentially require policing.
4.5.4. Participate in the MCCF and enable MCCF engagement with mining communities.
4.5.5. Respect the rule of law and all due processes addressing criminal activity.
4.5.6. Desist from provocation, violence, intimidation and murder and actively discourage members from taking the law into their own hands; to prevent single incidents from spiralling out of control.
4.5.7. Condemn and prevent the carrying of weapons (as defined in the Dangerous Weapons Act) during strike action and take reasonable measures to ensure that members do not carry weapons during strike action.
4.5.8. No carrying or harbouring of any weapons on company property at any time in line with existing laws of the country.
4.5.9. Adhere to legal procedures for marches and protest action.
4.5.10. Ensure that there will be peaceful demonstrations and respect for people and property.
5. Strengthening Labour Relations
5.1. It is the right of workers to join unions, to declare disputes, to strike and to engage in any form of peaceful protest. These rights must be practiced in accordance with the law. The rights of others to similarly engage in such activities must be recognised.
5.2. The Labour Relations Act (LRA) lays the primary foundation for labour relations in South Africa. This would require more active labour market policy intervention that supports organised and improved collective bargaining structures at sector and at workplace level in line with the objectives of the LRA.
5.3. The principle of majoritarianism remains one of the main pillars in the construct of our labour market regulatory system. The stakeholders in the labour market have lived with this principle for many years. While it has served the system of our industrial relations very well, some have raised concerns of its unintended consequences including but not limited to the possibility that it may infringe on the constitutional rights of other organisations and individuals' freedom of association. These concerns warrant a need for evaluation.
5.4. Where disputes over membership status, verification of membership figures and recognition agreements arise this will be dealt with by parties to the dispute.
5.5. Government commits to:
5.5.1. Work with Business and Labour to resolve issues speedily through existing legally mandated institutions.
5.5.2. Advocate speedy resolution of labour disputes in the best interest of members and South Africa.
5.5.3. Within the framework of the law, work with Business and Labour to fast-track resolution of disputes over membership status, verification of membership figures and recognition agreements.
5.5.4. Stabilise the current labour relations environment through working together in developing a protocol for verification of union membership.
5.5.5. Work in partnership with Business and Labour to develop capacity of union leaders and workers on labour relations matters and economic realities facing the industry and the country.
5.5.6. Working with Business and Labour, explore various instruments to address any possible unintended constitutional consequences in the application of the majoritarian principle including but not limited to introducing an instrument in law to balance the exercise of the majoritarian principle in a manner that does not unfairly prejudice other parties, if found appropriate.
5.6. Business commits to:
5.6.1. Respect the rule of law and the legal framework in labour relations matters.
5.6.2. When taking decisions, to take account of both the broader context in South Africa, in particular the need to reduce poverty, inequality and unemployment as well as the interests of investors.
5.6.3. Respect agreements and legal obligations concluded through proper forums, chambers, councils and similar forums.
5.6.4. Contribute to creating cordial relations between unions in the sector.
5.6.5. Follow proper labour relations procedures in the spirit of the law.
5.6.6. Resolve labour disputes as speedily as possible in the best interest of members and South Africa.
5.6.7. Work with Labour to fast-track resolution of disputes over membership status, verification of membership figures and recognition agreements.
5.6.8. Commit to the development of a pre-negotiations framework.
5.6.9. Recognise and respect cultural diversity in the workplace.
5.7. Labour commits to:
5.7.1. Manage all labour disputes within the legal framework of the country.
5.7.2. Respect the rights of employers to take the necessary steps, within the confines of the law, against workers involved in unprotected strike action, violence and intimidation.
5.7.3. Resolve labour disputes as speedily as possible in the best interest of members and South Africa.
5.7.4. Work with Business to fast-track resolution of disputes over membership status, verification of membership figures and recognition agreements.
5.7.5. Take responsibility to educate members on labour relations issues and the economic realities facing the sector and the country.
5.7.6. Work with Government and Business to verify membership data and to facilitate recognition agreements that are fair and reasonable.
5.7.7. Allow for freedom of association and to respect the right of workers to join any union of their choice without fear, intimidation or violence from any source.
5.7.8. Commit to the development of a pre-negotiations framework.
5.7.9. Ensure that they have the appropriate infrastructure and practices to adequately represent their members at all times.
6. Roadmap for Future Work
6.1. A number of issues that have been of concern to workers, employers and government cannot be resolved overnight and require in-depth discussion among parties. Over and above existing agreements and commitments, the parties agree to address the following:
6.1.1. Accelerating the implementation of human settlement interventions.
22.214.171.124. Eight mining areas have been identified for intervention and further categorised into those requiring either immediate or urgent intervention. The Rustenburg platinum belt or area was identified as one of those areas that require immediate intervention. Partnerships between Government and Business have already been identified in prioritised areas.
6.1.2. Improve workplace relations.
6.1.3. Short-term and medium-term measures to deal with levels of indebtedness of workers, engagement with investors, impact of leadership changes on the sector.
6.1.4. Long-term policy measures will be put in place to support growth and stability and deal with areas contributing to policy. In addition, uncertainty in sector regulations, tax policy, improvements to labour sending areas and re-skilling of workers, among others will be addressed.
6.2. Possible Short-Term and Medium-Term Sector Measures
6.2.1. Stakeholders will work jointly to identify sustainable support measures required for the sector.
6.2.2. Government will undertake an assessment of economic and social conditions in surrounding and labour sending areas.
6.2.3. Government will ensure that the legislative and regulatory programmes provide predictability and certainty for the industry.
6.2.4. Business to inform individual employees upon receipt of emolument garnishee orders and consider steps to assist employees who are highly indebted.
6.2.5. Government to take steps to prevent the abuse of workers by unscrupulous micro-lenders, including reviewing the regulations around salary deductions, garnishee orders and the micro-lending system.
6.2.6. Stakeholders will engage actively with local and foreign investors in a structured and coordinated manner to ensure that South Africa remains an attractive investment destination.
6.3. Possible Long-Term Sector Measures to Support Growth and Stability
6.3.1. The process for the annual assessment of the implementation of the Mining Charter must take place, with regular and inclusive communications.
6.3.2. All stakeholders must participate in the development of the long-term strategy and support initiatives for necessary restructuring and re-skilling of workers to achieve competitiveness, sustainable growth and transformation of the mining industry.
6.3.3. Government to enhance an environment supportive of investment.
6.3.4. Stakeholders to review the culture introduced to mining communities by the migrant labour system.
6.3.5. Improvement of socioeconomic conditions in labour sending areas.
6.3.6. Strengthen engagement on the broader transformation of the mining value chain, including local beneficiation of minerals and broad-based ownership.
6.4. Implementation Structures
6.4.1. Stakeholders recognise the criticality of proper implementation and coordination, combined with monitoring and evaluation regarding agreed deliverables.
6.4.2. To ensure more consistent implementation and common action to address blockages and new issues as they arise, the parties will therefore:
126.96.36.199. For the next 12 months, meet on a quarterly basis, convened by the Deputy President. This will be supported by more regular meetings by relevant technical structures.
188.8.131.52. The Mining Industry Growth and Development Task Team (Midget) will be charged with on-going support for implementation of the commitments made here, as well as supporting communication of progress and requirements to the constituencies. This will require expansion of the current composition of Midgett, and the commitment by all parties to devote sufficient resources and leadership time to enable the Midgett structure to achieve its objectives.
7.1. All the parties will report back to their members on a regular basis so as to ensure broader understanding of the progress and challenges faced.
7.2. Parties further commit to act together to promote South Africa in the national interest, including investor relations management when required.
8.1. Stakeholders commit to act swiftly to make this agreement work. Without abrogating the responsibilities of parties to this agreement, where challenges arise parties will, where necessary, meet to deal with them immediately.
Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Street
Tel: +27 11 339-4911 or Direct: +27 10 219-1339
Mobile: +27 82 821 7456