Union opposes Exxaro’s restructuring

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File photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Johannesburg - Solidarity will oppose parts of mining company Exxaro's restructuring plan, the trade union said on Thursday.

“Although the proposed restructuring plan will better align the company and its services, Solidarity is of the opinion that certain parts of the plan are not in the employees' best interests,” spokesman Louis Pretorius said in a statement.

However, Exxaro said its intention was to implement a fair and equitable process.

Spokesman Hilton Atkinson said the company had been consulting organised labour regarding the restructuring plan.

“Proposals on how to deal with employees that may be affected by such a restructuring were given to organised labour for their input,” Atkinson said.

Further engagement would take place to address the concerns of employees and organised labour, he said.

Pretorius said Exxaro's restructuring plan would affect about 1980 employees.

The plan involved, among other things, that employees refusing to accept its conditions would be charged with misconduct and immediately dismissed.

It also stated that employees could be moved to a lower salary category six months after the plan had been implemented and that employees could be transferred from one business unit in the parent company to another.

Employees would be evaluated based on their disciplinary record and relevant knowledge and skills, to determine if they were suitable for transfer to another business unit.

“It is also stipulated in the plan that the employer may make the final decision over whether an employee qualifies for such a transfer or not,” said Pretorius.

The procedure by which the employer would evaluate employees for a possible transfer was too subjective.

The union was also concerned that Exxaro wanted to unreasonably force its employees to comply with the restructuring conditions.

“Because of this approach there is an impression among the employees that the employer wants to reduce its personnel without having to pay severance packages,” said Pretorius.

Another concern was that 74 employees would not be placed in other posts immediately and would temporarily be placed in a so-called retention structure.

“These employees will have to refresh their knowledge and skills before they will be considered for re-appointment,” said Pretorius.

“In addition, they will in all probability have to perform additional tasks at the employer's discretion and the possibility exists that they will be overburdened with work,” he said.

However, Solidarity was pleased with Exxaro's willingness to consult on the plan.

“Solidarity is positive that sensible solutions that are favourable for both parties will be found for the mentioned issues of concern,” he said.

Exxaro intends to implement the proposed restructuring plan by January 1 next year. - Sapa


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