Gauteng Business News

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RESOURCES: There Has to Be Another Way


Recent Gauteng Business News

The trade union Solidarity made an urgent appeal to the gold company Harmony Gold to consider all alternatives to the planned retrenchment of 2 000 employees at the company. In terms of a Section 189 notice, Harmony plans on closing three of its four shafts outside Evander.

However, Solidarity maintains that the company is in fact in a strong enough financial position to avoid the retrenchments and should rather consider alternatives such as transfers to other mines.

According to the group’s latest annual report, the Harmony Group posted a record net profit of more than R2,9 billion for 2009. In addition, the company posted a significantly improved operating profit in South Africa, from a loss of R71 million in 2008 to an operating profit of R572 million in 2009. The company’s profit before tax also improved from a loss of R277 million in 2008 to a profit of R277 million in 2009.

“Harmony must simply investigate the available alternatives and give trade unions and employees the assurance that retrenchments will be avoided. The planned retrenchment of employees at the group’s marginal mines is unacceptable,” explained Solidarity spokesperson Jaco Kleynhans.

“Harmony was aware of the expected lifespan of the mines in question and should have planned accordingly to offer alternative opportunities to employees as soon as the mines’ production became marginal and shafts could no longer be operated profitably.”

In terms of the Section 189 notice of the planned retrenchments at Harmony’s Evander mines, nearly 2 097 employees could lose their jobs. Solidarity has not been involved in the Section 189 process yet, but is insisting on being included in the process.

Meanwhile, Harmony announced in October that more than 360 employees of the company’s Harmony 2, Merriespruit 1 and 3, Brand 3 and Unisel shafts outside Virginia would be affected by a restructuring process and transferred to other Harmony mines. According to Kleynhans, the company’s restructuring here is not only procedurally defective, but is also apparently a forerunner of planned retrenchments since rumours of retrenchments here are doing the rounds.

According to Harmony’s annual report, there has been an increase in gold production at both the Virginia and Evander mines. In total, 18% of Harmony’s gold this year has been mined at Virginia while 13% was mined at Evander.

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