Mine unions fail­ing work­ers

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Dr Peter C Baker

SOUTH Africa is on its knees eco­nom­i­cally and com­pletely lost in space and time as far as di­rec­tion and lead­er­ship are con­cerned. We are an un­der-ed­u­cated coun­try, for­tu­nately with some very bright sparks through­out all lev­els of our so­ci­ety who hold the key to an ex­plo­sion of en­ter­prise and a de­vi­a­tion on to the high road of so­cial and eco­nomic suc­cess. Sadly, these lead­ing lights are drowned in a morass of red tape and a bu­reau­cracy hell­bent on keep­ing our coun­try at the top of the world’s non-per­form­ers hit pa­rade. We are at risk of los­ing our bright sparks to coun­tries which ap­pre­ci­ate their in­no­va­tion and drive. Ev­ery­one of us knows peo­ple who have taken their skills abroad and been re­ceived by our com­peti­tors with open arms.

We are sadly an un­der­achiev­ing and un­der­per­form­ing coun­try in just about ev­ery cat­e­gory you might wish to choose: ed­u­ca­tion, lit­er­acy, nu­mer­acy, pro­duc­tion, em­ploy­ment, growth in GDP and per­sonal well-be­ing, ser­vice de­liv­ery from gov­ern­ment at all lev­els, cor­rup­tion, days lost to strikes and the gen­eral growth of the coun­try at all lev­els. Our fail­ures can squarely be placed at the front door of our suc­ces­sive ANC gov­ern­ments, again at all lev­els.

There are rot­ting cesspools of in­com­pe­tence, cor­rup­tion and malfea­sance. Con­sid­er­able blame must also be put at the doorstep of the plethora of trade unions which, as they shrink in size, be­come more de­mand­ing and vi­o­lent in their bid to keep the co­terie of trade union lead­ers on the front pages in some at­tempt to keep them in the hearts and minds of their mem­bers.

The re­cent an­nounce­ment by Im­plats that they will be clos­ing shafts and lay­ing off em­ploy­ees, due in part to the mas­sive re­duc­tion in the world-wide price for the pre­cious metal plat­inum, (al­most 50% in the past eight years) which more than any other pre­cious metal used in in­dus­try is en­tirely re­cy­clable and hence very closely linked to pro­duc­tion cost. The min­ing trade union, Amcu, seems to be to­tally un­aware of this and is hell-bent on fur­ther crip­pling the min­ing in­dus­try by mas­sive strikes and the co­er­cion of other unions to fol­low suit so that, as they say, “no plat­inum goes out of the ground”. Min­eral Re­sources Min­is­ter Gwede Man­tashe, in his en­tirely pre­dictable fash­ion, has come out in favour of the unions, stat­ing that Im­plats has ne­go­ti­ated in bad faith. A smart union and min­is­ter should have done the right thing to en­sure that the min­i­mum of jobs is lost and pro­duc­tion con­tin­ues in the face of ever de­creas­ing plat­inum prices and in­creas­ing mech­a­ni­sa­tion, by telling Im­plats that they would in­crease pro­duc­tion per man hour and help by all pos­si­ble means to re­duce the cost of pro­duc­tion. Why has this never been put on the ta­ble?

It’s time union mem­bers look for their own well-be­ing and jobs by ap­peal­ing to the min­ing com­pa­nies that they will do what­ever is re­quired to keep their jobs. If it means the demise of trade unions and an en­tente cor­diale be­tween labour and min­ing houses, let the good times roll.

‘It’s time union mem­bers look for their own well-be­ing’

Park­town North, Joburg

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