Unions call dispute over Exxaro lay-offs

[miningmx.com] — TRADE unions Solidarity and the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) have declared a dispute with mining company Exxaro Resources.

“This comes after the company informed trade unions in a Section 189 notice earlier this month that it plans to retrench approximately 300 employees next year,” the unions said in a joint statement on Friday.

The unions maintain that the company has failed to follow the correct procedure and are demanding that the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) step in.

“According to Exxaro’s notice, the company intends to go ahead with the retrenchments if its Siyaya project can be implemented successfully.

“This project was undertaken to examine the core business of the company and following on the project, it was recommended that the possible retrenchment of 300 employees be carried out.”

The unions added that during the second information session, they were informed that Exxaro planned to restructure its service and core functions in an attempt to cut down on costs.

“According to Exxaro’s management, this restructuring will increase the company’s competitiveness with its competitors, which will eventually benefit its shareholders.”

The unions said that during the first information session, they had stressed that the company should fully consult with them.

“Solidarity and Num also stressed that the rationale for the retrenchments should be set out properly before the process can be communicated to employees at grass-roots level.

“In addition, the company was warned that it will be playing with fire if the process is dealt with unilaterally.”

The unions said the process that had been followed to date left much to be desired and they had no other option but to declare a dispute.

In response, Exxaro said a process of consultation with its labour unions that started this week had been postponed after the unions declared a dispute.

“The consultation process follows the announcement on November 2 2010 that the group is contemplating retrenchments as the proposed restructure could lead to about 300 retrenchments.”

Spokesperson Hilton Atkinson said the restructure of parts of the group was intended to improve productivity, reduce cost of services and operations, and streamline organisational structures.

“Following the declaration of a dispute, due process will be followed.”

Atkinson added that the company remained open to constructive engagement with its unions.

“The group will do everything possible to limit the impact on our employees and the consultation process will examine all options.

“However, the future sustainability of the group remains a pressing need in the context of the demanding business environment in which we operate and we must ensure we have a streamlined and competitive current business to meet growth aspirations.”