The Minister of Labour, Mildred Oliphant, is focusing all her efforts on brokering a peace accord at Lonmin’s Marikana mine while turning a blind eye to simmering labour unrest at other mines. The DA will insist that the Labour and Mining Committees visit not only the Marikana mine, but also other affected mines to prevent future tragedies.
Labour unrest has been spreading across the mining sector following the tragedy at Lonmin’s Marikana mine. Additional labour protests have been reported at Royal Bafokeng’s Rasimone platinum mine, Anglo American Platinum’s Thembelani mine, Eastern Platinum’s Crocodile River mine and Gold Fields’ Kloof Driefontein Complex gold mine.
By focusing all her efforts on establishing a peace accord at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, the Minister is simply reacting to the most immediate symptoms of an underlying dysfunctional labour regime.
Instead of simply attempting a patch-up job, the Minister should seek to understand the broader issues facing workers at mines across the sector. This information should then be used to inform the debate on the draft labour laws currently before the Labour Committee.
The Minister cannot continue to avoid making the hard decisions. We simply must have constructive labour law reforms based on the realities on the ground and be unconstrained by the political agenda of groupings within the tripartite alliance.
In a joint sitting last month, the Labour and Mining Committees agreed to visit Lonmin’s Marikana mine to fully assess the recent tragedy. It was suggested that the excursion may be extended to include other platinum mines to gain a comprehensive understanding of the current state of industrial relations in the sector.
The Minister should play a leading role in insisting that the joint committee visit all affected mines. This is non-negotiable if we are to have any hope of gaining a wide-ranging understanding of what is happening in the sector.
During the next sitting of the Labour Committee I will press for a joint committee visit to take place as soon as possible. We cannot afford to wait for the next Marikana before taking action.