Employment in South Africa has grown at 1,6% in September, despite the wave of unauthorised and unprotected strikes at Gold Fields, Anglo American Platinum, Lonmin and other mines in 2012. However the survey also reveals that while wages have grown by double-digits, productivity is sharply down.
According to human capital management group Adcorp’s latest employment index, close to 26 000 jobs were created in September. This partly reverses the loss of 82 431 jobs between May and August, group marketing manager Mandy Jones said in a media statement.
The majority of jobs was created in the informal sector, where employment increased by 2,3%, followed by strong growth in agency and temporary work. But low-skilled, or blue-collar jobs, fell by 3,2% — most notably in the mining and manufacturing industries with 14 000 job losses. The negative tendency will continue, especially in the mining industry where high wage settlements and problematic labour relations will eventually lead to long-term job losses, Jones said. She expected that the 11% – 22% wage settlement at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in the North West will spark similar demands elsewhere in the sector.
“Over the past year, mining sector wages, including bonuses and overtime, increased by 13.8% versus an 11.4% decline in labour productivity,” Jones said. This represents a 25,2% gap between labour costs and productivity – “the highest in recorded history,” Jones said, adding that South African mines which are reducing their dependence on labour are responding “rationally”.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Gold Fields chairwomen Mamphela Ramphele during an interview in Cape Town. Ramphele warned the South African mining industry can no longer rely on low-cost labour and will have to engage in mass firings and mechanise more in order to remain competitive, according to Bloomberg