Can workplace secondments build trust in the mining sector?

Can workplace secondments build trust in the mining sector?

Mutual suspicion has characterised the relationship between the South African government and mining companies, particularly in recent years. Resolving the current impasse would require a panoply of policy interventions because of the complexity and age of the mining industry. This briefing proposes that one such intervention could be the introduction of a structured workplace secondment programme between the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and mining companies – together identifying critical areas for co-operation and skills transfer. A well-managed and properly resourced secondment programme offers the potential to deepen understanding, share expertise, improve trust and ultimately facilitate a more functional and productive sector. Secondments carry their own risks, but these can be mitigated through rigorous design, and are far outweighed by the risk of doing nothing to alter the status quo.
 
Recommendations:
  • The Department of Mineral Resources should take the lead in establishing a long-term partnership with the private sector for an ongoing workplace secondment programme for public servants into mining companies
  • the programme should be assigned sufficient human and financial resources to succeed. It should be co-designed by the government and the private sector; target mutually agreed critical areas for building expertise; and be co-funded by the state and the private sector
  • rigorous upfront design and consultation should be undertaken to mitigate risks and ensure a coherent and tightly managed process, right through to the secondees’ return to their workplace
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