Social support for retrenched mineworkers needs to be improved, the Chamber of Mines said yesterday.
Chamber of Mines director Charmane Russell said even when a mine was closed down due to care and maintenance, mining companies had made provision for skills development for workers.
The chamber said there had been great emphasis placed on portable skills training, in which employees went through training for jobs outside of mining, in so doing they could venture into other sectors to pursue entrepreneurial endeavours.
“Generally, experienced and skilled employees are more likely to be employed at other operations and indeed in other sectors too. There also needs to be an awareness that even when mine restructuring is undertaken, every effort is made to transfer employees or try and match them up with other operations, even where this means re-skilling,” Russell said.
There had been large-scale retrenchments in the mining sector, the latest one being at AngloGold Ashanti whereby the company had begun a process of letting go of its 8500 workforce.
Solidarity deputy general for mining Connie Prinsloo said the industry was shedding 1200 to 1500 jobs a month.
Prinsloo said unions tried to negotiate rehiring deals with companies in case a mine reopened but there were no guarantees, especially with a dwindling mining sector, slow economic growth and now a detrimental Mining Charter.
“Typically, when mines are put on care and maintenance, former employees tend to be offered opportunities if or when that mine reopens. However, the sad fact is that once a mine is closed or put on care and maintenance, it is very rare that it is reopened,” Russell said.
Meanwhile, National Union of Mineworkers national spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu said not much had been done to equip retrenched mineworkers with skills that would be of service to them in the broader employment sector.