Baleni: Mine bosses should listen to unions

Frans Baleni says the sustainability of the industry shouldn't be achieved at the expense of workers.

FILE: NUM general secretary Frans Baleni. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Mineworkers ( NUM) says companies should take the union into confidence ahead of negotiations to avoid exorbitant demands being made and protracted disputes.

Mineworkers' wages once again featured prominently, with particular emphasis on small profit margins, at the 2014 Johannesburg Indaba on Investing in Resources and Mining in Africa where NUM general secretary Frans Baleni questioned the ability of mine bosses to cooperate with unions.

Baleni says the sustainability of the industry should not be achieved at the expense of workers.

He adds unions are often caught off-guard by claims of marginal profits during wage negotiations.

Baleni says one of the ways to improve the relationship between management and employees is through employment share ownership plans (Esop).

"Looking at the Kumba scheme, in terms of Esop, it has such an impact on those workers. They are getting dividends twice a year."

Baleni has also dismissed claims that a lack of service from NUM shop-stewards led to the emergence of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union ( Amcu), saying mine bosses ignored warnings from his union about employee dissatisfaction.

NO TRANSFORMATION WITHOUT SACRIFICE

The NUM also says transformation of the minerals and energy industry cannot take place without sacrifices being made by the current majority owners of capital.

Baleni today told mining executives and analysts that only a handful of black executives have been fast tracked to senior positions.

He says this is aimed at creating the illusion of balance in representation but 20 years later it remains a facade.

"Post 1994, instead of making sacrifices in order to rebuild and reconstruct, we wanted everybody to be here, by hook or crook. But it has not happened."