The proposed amendment to The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Regulations enter trade unions’ and mining companies’ territory unnecessarily regarding the prevention and handling of retrenchments.
According to the proposed amendment, which was recently published by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, the employer must submit within seven days, after the retrenchment consultation process between trade unions and an employer, a detailed report up to the smallest detail to the Department on the completed consultation process. The information is then referred to The Mining and Minerals Development Board for consideration and recommendations. Even if the process has been completed, the Board must meet with the employer and submit recommendations to the Minister on possible further intervention in the process.
This amended regulation does not make sense and must be scrapped for the following five reasons:
- Firstly, 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.
- Secondly, trade unions and employers reach 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.
- Thirdly, it is highly unlikely that board members have the necessary knowledge and experience to add further value or offer substantial input.
- Fourthly, the current mining regulation provides at the beginning of a retrenchment process for the Board to launch an investigation and to submit recommendations to the Minister. Up to date, no reports from the Board have had any impact on the outcome of the retrenchment consultation process between trade unions and employers.
- Lastly, the proposed regulation undermines the status and legal power of agreements reached by trade unions and employers.
Solidarity recommends that the proposed regulation regarding the duplication of a retrenchment process be scrapped, but that it should also be considered to scrap The Mining and Minerals Development Board. The Board has a symbolic role only and has always been ineffective, therefore, an unnecessary expense tax payers must subsidise.