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Cape Town – Plans by mine owners to shed jobs to make their businesses more profitable should be dealt with quickly at the most senior level of government, according to labour expert Terry Bell.
In a Fin24 podcast, Bell explained that this is a very serious issue, not just for workers and unions, but also for the government and the economy.
The world’s number one platinum producer Anglo American Platinum said that it plans to overhaul a number of its South African mines to make them more profitable in the face of depressed prices.
“Nobody should be surprised at the restructuring and potential job losses at Anglo American Platinum,” Bell said.
“This has been on the cards certainly for the past two years and certainly since the events and massacre of Marikana.
“It extends right across the gold, platinum and coal sectors, in fact mining in general.
“One Japanese corporation estimated earlier this year that up to 185 000 mine jobs will be (lost) over the next year or two. I think that’s probably exaggerated, but there will almost certainly be about 30 000 to 50 000 jobs shed and that’s going to mean hardship for nearly half a million dependants… who rely on the income of the miners.
“That will of course have a knock-on effect across the economy,” he said. “So it is a really worrying factor.
“The big mining companies have already said they are heading towards mechanisation,” he said, adding that deep mines and union shafts “will probably be closed and sold to smaller mining companies who will employ fewer miners”.
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