BusinessExecutivesInterview: Making or breaking labour with Cosatu's Labour Partner, JIC


Posted on Friday, 21 September 2012 17:13

Interview: Making or breaking labour with Cosatu's Labour Partner, JIC

Jacques Roux, CEO of JIC Mining Services (JIC)The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has decried the use and role of labour brokers as undermining the rights of workers. Yet as JIC Mining Services (JIC) CEO Jacques Roux articulates, while the company provides outsourced labour, among other mining services, so too do they have an agreement with Cosatu's main mining union, National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which counts a relative of President Jacob Zuma as a director. The company maintains that they provide the full benefits of an employer.


The Africa Report: Does JIC, supplying outsourced labour to mining companies like Anglo-Platinum, consider itself a labour broker?

Jacques Roux: It is indeed unfortunate that confusion exists between complete mining services companies (such as JIC) and labour-broking services. We are a comprehensive mining service provider, not a labour broker.  The significant difference is that JIC is contracted to provide turnkey mining services to the mine owner.
Such services include the provision of capital equipment, repair and maintenance of the said equipment, procurement of all supplies required in the operation of the mine as well as providing suitably qualified staff and management services.  JIC invoices its clients on the basis of output delivered - whether it be in linear metres of development, tonnes broken or tonnes hoisted. Labour brokers typically invoice on the basis of a worker headcount with a profit margin added to the cost of labour, therefore JIC has a fundamentally different model which is light-years away from labour-broking.

Further proof here of is the fact that all JIC employees are employed on permanent contracts with appropriate fringe benefits such as retirement funding, medical aid, death cover as provided for in the mining industry generally. The "National Recognition and Procedural agreement" that JIC proudly holds with the NUM is another testimony to the fact that JIC employees are treated with respect and dignity and allowed to be represented through structured processes of collective bargaining.

What is the agreement between NUM, the dominant mining union under Cosatu, and JIC?

JIC proudly holds a national recognition and procedural agreement as I mentioned in my earlier... This agreement regulates the relationship between the NUM and JIC Mining Services in so far as the NUM represents the majority of JIC Mining Services employees.  The agreement amongst other things regulates the processes of formal engagement between the parties for purposes of wage negotiations, dispute resolution, mutual recognition and respect.  The agreement was concluded in 2007 and as recently as 2011 the parties have signed a two year wage agreement!

The agreement in the main confirms that JIC Mining Services recognises the NUM as the majority union representing JIC Mining Services employees and the NUM recognises JIC Mining Services as a responsible employer with whom they are willing to engage in a process of collective bargaining on behalf of their members.

It seems like JIC is following a model of the kind proposed by the new LRA - where a company provides labour to a client, with almost the same benefits as had they been employed directly. But some would claim that if workers are contracted to a different employer, and JIC can move them where expedient, that is essentially a labour broker. Could you challenge that assertion?

JIC Mining Services in consultation with the NUM does indeed from time to time require moving resources between projects. This does not by definition imply a situation of labour broking – on the contrary in the case of labour broking firms they would not require to move staff around as they would simply terminate the services of their staff in cases where contracts are cancelled.  In the case of JIC Mining Services, all our staff are permanently employed an as such would remain employed by us – even if contracts are lost or cancelled.  In such cases we explore the possibilities of redeployment to other projects that we have in order to avoid retrenchment and loss of jobs.

When did JIC begin to supply labour to companies, and what the differences are between the labor broker model, and your company, including profit from labor?

JIC Mining Services has been supplying contract mining services since its inception.  It needs to be understood that labour is but one of the factors of production along with all other factors of production that JIC Mining Services employs like capital equipment, supplies, engineering services etc in the execution of our contractual responsibilities towards our clients.  Our total cost base including all factors of production is calculated to arrive at a rate that clients are willing to pay for outputs delivered to them, either in  the form of tonnes hoisted, meters developed etc. JIC Mining Services is responsible for 100% outsourced mining services at most of the contracts that we operate.

Did NUM or JIC make the first step toward an agreement?

The agreement was formalised based on the NUM achieving the required minimum threshold of representation amongst the employees in line with common mining industry processes.

Do you have a response for those who claim that NUM has too many connections to the President, including Zuma family relations on JIC?

It would not be appropriate for us to comment on the affairs of the NUM further than to the extent of our own relationship with them.

Readers are keen to know what JIC pays relative to the situation occurring at Marikana?

Based on the total of guaranteed plus variable remuneration of our employees, the average earning of rock drill operators in JIC Mining Services ranges between R8, 000 – R10,000 per month on a total cost to company basis. Based on individual performance these values could be even higher.

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