We provide employment to over 5,600 employees across our operations, as well as an additional 5,562 contractors (predominantly assisting with our expansion programmes).
In keeping with our core value of ‘Let’s take control’, we believe that employees who are empowered and accountable for their actions work to the best of their ability, and we have therefore fostered a culture whereby innovation and creativity in the workplace is encouraged and rewarded.
To continuously improve the skills of our employees and enable them to achieve their full potential, we invest substantially in training programmes. This is done with cognisance that our employees’ personal development will contribute to the successful development of our operations.
With strong competition in the labour market for semi-skilled and skilled employees, and a shortage of certain specialised skills, workforce retention is a key challenge for Petra. We counter this by fostering a vibrant company culture and by designing remuneration policies to attract, incentivise and retain individuals of a high calibre.
We follow a strategy of preferential local recruitment across all operations. Apart from the mandatory requirements, local recruitment makes sound business sense as it decreases dependence on Company-provided services such as transport and housing, encourages a more stable and cohesive workforce, and contributes to the development of local communities.
Training and development is essential in ensuring that our employees can achieve their full potential and to guarantee that the current and future skills needs of the organisation are met. We therefore allocate significant resources to this area (US$8.5 million spend in FY 2017).
We offer training in both the technical and non-technical disciplines. In FY 2016, the main areas of expenditure continued to be in-house safety and technical training, technical training outsourced to specialist external training providers, engineering and rockbreaking learnerships, internships and centralised leadership and management development programmes.
Our leadership development programme (“LDP”) is an important strategic tool to assist the organisation in the identification and development of employees who display the potential to fulfil leadership positions in the future.
The LDP is a two-year programme which consists of various elements such as classroom learning, mentoring, coaching and formal technical training in order to ensure that the graduates can effectively fulfil future leadership positions in the Company.
The challenges facing education in South Africa and the impact on literacy rates is one of the challenges facing business in the country, and Petra is no exception. We therefore have ABET in place at all operations on a voluntary and part-time basis, with the ABET facilitated either as a combination of computer-based training and face-to-face interactions or facilitator-led training.
In Tanzania, where the Williamson mine is located, the workforce has a much higher level of basic education and it is estimated that 95% of Williamson employees are functionally literate and numerate. Likewise for our Botswana operations, where our workforce is comparatively small, ABET is not necessary.
Portable skills training is intended to develop skills that employees can use for self-employment at the end of their careers or in the instance of mine closure.
The provision of such training is legislated in South Africa, as it is seen as an important way to assist the development of a skilled workforce within the country. Our operations therefore offer a range of programmes, such as carpentry, engineering, agricultural training, computer skills, plastering and supporting participants to learn to drive and achieve their driving licences.
Although Williamson in Tanzania provides continuous training in the workplace and distance learning programmes and short courses are well attended, it does not currently present any formal portable skills programmes. The same applies for Botswana, where the nature of the current operations does not require, or lend itself, to this kind of programme.
Our bursary scheme in South Africa provides the opportunity to support a number of students each year studying towards a qualification in one of the core disciplines of the mining industry.
As well as covering the cost of the studies, including accommodation and allowances, our scheme also assists students in terms of their vacation work and provides opportunities for them to complete practical modules at our operations as required by their respective institutions.
In South Africa, a learnership is a registered and accredited learning programme which combines practical work experience with academic learning.
The aim of our learnership programmes is to address skills shortages and job vacancies both at our mines and within the mining industry as a whole, with the objective being to increase the pool of available labour.
Learners are recruited from inside and outside the Company. Currently we have learners on a number of programmes ranging from various engineering disciplines (e.g. electrical, fitter, instrumentation etc) through to rock breaking and metallurgy.
We respect our workforce’s right to exercise freedom of association and collective bargaining across all our operations and any union that has achieved sufficient representation in the workplace may request recognition.
Union membership across our operations represents 70% of the total workforce. Our employees in South Africa belong to three unions: National Union of Mineworkers (‘NUM”), which represents the majority of our workforce; Solidarity (5%); and the United Association of South Africa (“UASA”) (9%). 30% of our South African workforce is not affiliated with any union.
In Tanzania, 60% of our employees are affiliated with the National Union of Mines and Energy workers of Tanzania (“NUMET”), while the Tanzania Mines, Energy, Construction and Allied Workers Union (“TAMICO”) represents the balance of the unionised employees.
At an operational level, there are grievance procedures in place for employees, with final recourse to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (“CCMA”) in South Africa or with the Commission for Mediation and Arbitration (“CMA”) in Tanzania.
We believe that dialogue is the key to management of labour operations and we are therefore focused on continuing to communicate openly with our employees, trade unions and local community representatives.
Recent initiatives to further improve employee relations include the launch a number of internal communications initiatives, as well as economics training for union representatives in South Africa in order to empower them with business knowledge.
Communicating effectively and transparently with our workforce is a key priority for Petra, given that they are one of our most important stakeholders.
Our approach aims to foster an open and supportive communication culture and climate within the Company, which is backed up by appropriate employee and communications policies.
We use a variety of channels to ensure the dissemination of important information, such as digital display screen systems and/or notice boards in areas of high visibility, Group and operation-specific newsletters, and a bulk text message service (this works particularly well instead of email for our workforce, as the prevalence of mobile phone ownership is high in comparison to home computer ownership). We also focus on empowering employees, notably those in supervisory positions, with the necessary communication skills.
Our employee-only intranet gives access to all Group policies and procedures, information on key personnel and who to contact should an employee have a specific query or concern.
Lack of available housing in South Africa is a challenge facing many businesses, including Petra. In accordance with the South African Mining Charter, Petra has developed an accommodation strategy which is organised at an operational level. Each mine has its own policy regarding the accommodation it provides.