COMPANIES that employ people with skills classified as essential and scarce are in a dog-eat-dog situation, maybe not so much in the private sector but the public sector is surely feeling the pinch.
Yesterday, state arms manufacturing company Denel complained to Parliament about how it was training engineers only to have them leave the company as quickly as they came in. The company’s retention rate is too low, which Denel blamed on the frequent changing of jobs by young professionals who sell their skills to the highest bidder in the market.
But the poaching of skills is not just a problem between the public and the private sectors. Denel cried foul at how it lost its young engineers to Eskom. Last year, when state-owned companies presented their training programmes to the parliamentary portfolio committee on public enterprises, the issue of poaching from each other also became topical. Those benefiting have been Eskom and Transnet, while smaller entities have suffered.
But then again it all goes back to being an employer of choice. Pupils in the rural areas and even a large number of those in the urban townships and suburbs know Eskom as their prospective employer before they even get admitted for the university degrees they want to pursue. Sometimes even their choices of study are influenced by what career opportunities Eskom or Telkom can offer them.
It all goes back to reputation, historic employee relations and what career growth opportunities the company has to offer. Add a couple of more bucks to that, you have a winning formula.
Denel offers more than 80 university bursaries a year but then retrenches more than 500 technical staff in one year. That cannot be a pull factor for young talent to whom job security is a priority concern. But perhaps the move to shorten the period they have to serve the company before advancing onto the next level of their career would work in Denel’s favour this time. page 18
Just when we thought the labour unrest that rocked the mining industry would be a thing of the past, several mines were hit by wildcat strikes, with Exxaro Resources being the latest scene for protests.
The prolonged strike at Exxaro could potentially threaten the company’s ability to supply Eskom power stations with coal.
Exxaro management and union leaders were under a lot of pressure to act swiftly as the strike not only affected Eskom but numerous other industries, NUS Consulting Group general manager Alton Bosch said yesterday.
With the winter season approaching, we ran the risk of experiencing blackouts if the strike was not resolved soon, he added.
Exxaro chief executive Sipho Nkosi has his work cut out for him as he deals with what must be the biggest challenge in the company’s history since it was established six years ago.
The strike started when Exxaro’s Matla and Arnot mines, which supply power stations with coal, ground to a halt last Tuesday over the non-payment of performance bonuses. By Friday, the majority of Exxaro’s coal mines had ground to a halt as the strike spread to Grootgeluk and Leeuwpan mines. The strike also spread to Tshikondeni mine in Limpopo, National Union of Mineworkers secretary Mxolisi Hoboyi said.
The company did not pay bonuses as operations did not achieve performance targets. It had reported a 33 percent decline in earnings last year amid the fall in coal prices and a generally depressed market.
However, employees would not return to work until bonuses were paid, Hoboyi said.It seemed the signing of peace frameworks a few weeks ago by unions, mining companies and Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu has come to naught. page 18
Edited by Samantha Enslin-Payne. With contributions from Londiwe Buthelezi and Dineo Faku.