FILE PHOTO: Trade union Solidarity has called on the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s (DMRE) to can its recently unveiled draft amendments.

JOHANNESBURG - Trade union Solidarity has called on the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s (DMRE) to can its recently unveiled draft amendments to the Mineral Petroleum Resources Development Regulations.

Solidarity general secretary Gideon Du Plessis said yesterday that the union was not convinced that the proposed amendments were necessary, charging that the DMRE had entered trade unions’ and mining companies’ territory unnecessarily regarding the prevention and handling of retrenchments.

“Solidarity recommends that the proposed regulation regarding the duplication of a retrenchment process is scrapped, but that it should also be considered to scrap the Mining and Minerals Development Board,” Du Plessis said.

The union’s call comes after the DMRE announced the gazetted amendments to the regulations, as well as the draft Mine Community Resettlement Guidelines for public comments.

The department said yesterday that the affected parties, including host communities, landowners, traditional authorities and the holders of informal rights, had 30 days to comment on the notices.

“Taking into account that the public comment period will run over the festive season, and to afford interested and affected parties sufficient time to consider the documents and make their inputs, the department hereby extends the public comment period to the end of January 2020,” said the DMRE, adding that the closing date for the submission of written representations was the end of January 2020.

The proposed amendment requires that employers submit details of prior consultations, including dates, times and attendance registers, within seven days of the retrenchment process between employers and labour unions.

The amendment requires that the notice must be accompanied by a due diligence report, avoidance measures, audited financial statements and Section 189 consultations in terms of the Labour Relations Act.

Du Plessis said the Mining and Minerals Development Board had been ineffective, and therefore an unnecessary expense taxpayers had to subsidise.

He said it was highly unlikely that the board would have the necessary knowledge and experience to add further value or offer substantial input.

“This amended regulation does not make sense and must be scrapped, because the retrenchment process is regulated comprehensively by section 189 of the Labour Relations Act, and therefore there is no need for the department to duplicate the process in mining legislature,” said Du Plessis.

He said trade unions and employers had reached an agreement after intense negotiations and consultations regarding the retrenchments.

“As soon as the agreement has been reached, it is implemented and then the attention moves to other operational challenges or matters.

“It does not make sense to start the process from scratch,” he said.