200 000 mine jobs will be lost – Adcorp

Dineo Faku

ADCORP expected 200 000 jobs would be lost in the mining sector over the coming decade, the human capital management company said yesterday.

In the Adcorp employment index for September, released yesterday, the company argued that steep wage settlements and problematic labour relations would lead to long-term job losses in the industry.

Last month Lonmin awarded salary increases of between 11 and 22 percent to end a six-week wildcat strike in which 46 people were killed.

Loane Sharp, an employment analyst at Adcorp, said future trends could be predicted from looking at the history of wage increases and labour unrest.

Adcorp noted that, over the past year, mining sector wages, including bonuses and overtime, had increased by 13.8 percent on average.

“By contrast labour productivity in the mining sector fell by 11.4 percent. The absolute gap between labour costs and labour’s contribution is now 25.2 percent, the highest gap in recorded history,” it said.

Adcorp supported a reduction in the sector’s dependence on labour, saying that since 1986 the mining workforce had declined by 37.7 percent, from 839 000 miners to 523 000, over a period when production levels were roughly flat. The mines’ annual capital expenditures had meanwhile increased by 124.7 percent to R72 billion.

It also argued that, since the mid-1960s, the ratio of capital to labour – a measure of mines’ capital intensity of production – had increased by 959 percent.

Yesterday three unions, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and Uasa, presented an offer made by gold mining companies through the Chamber of Mines to their members at mass meetings.

The unions were expected to report to the chamber this morning whether their members had accepted the new offer, which came with an ultimatum for them to return to work by late shift today.

Uasa spokesman Franz Stehring said he was confident the union’s members would accept the proposals. “The problem lies with NUM. We will have to wait and see whether they’ll be able to sell the deal with their members,” Stehring said.

The new wage offer for entry-level employees entails scrapping the category 3 level so that employees start in category 4, with a consequent adjustment to the entry-level rate.

The offer made by the chamber on behalf of Gold Fields, AngloGold Ashanti and Harmony Gold includes an allowance for rock drill operators and a new category for locomotive, loader, winch and water jet operators, including improvement of pay.

The offer also includes adjustments in pay for other employees so as to preserve the integrity of the current job grading framework.

Michael Bagraim, the president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce, argued yesterday that improving the entry-level grades could mean that the gold sector would employ fewer people. The Chamber of Mines was not available for comment at the time of going to press. Strike package, page 20