Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe says the mining industry needs to tackle the migrant labour system, which he says remains a “scar on the face of democratic South Africa”.
Speaking at the mining lekgotla in Sandton today, Motlanthe said the industry had developed methods of making profits by “relying on the superexploitation of unskilled workers” using the support of discriminatory laws.
“Despite the advent of democracy and the repealing of these discriminatory laws, the mining industry has continued to rely on archaic practices that have not kept up with modern productive methods.
“As a result, the collective bargaining methods and institutions that we have developed over the past (19) years of democracy have been somewhat compromised by these archaic practices,” he said.
The lekgotla provides an opportunity for industry stakeholders to discuss the complex issues facing the industry.
Citing an expert, he said the pattern of migrant labour had not changed, saying the industry had remained the prisoner of its apartheid past.
He said the industry should transform by focusing on ideas to boost productivity through innovation and training.
“To move forward, the industry must break with its undesirable past by making workers feel valued for their contribution as wholesome human beings that must have decent jobs and sustainable livelihood, including proper housing, recreation and time with their families,” Motlanthe said.
The latest GDP shows that the mining industry’s contribution to the economy has declined by 0.3% following a crisis that has lasted for months, according to Stats SA figures.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said the decline translated into a R6 billion revenue loss for the fiscus.
Gordhan said mining stakeholders needed to confront the negative perceptions about the industry, and minimise them to attract investment.
He said having mineral deposits no longer guaranteed investment. Stability in labour relations was needed.
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