Union rep to sit in on Gold Fields purchasing talks

1 December 2010
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1 December 2010 | Nick Martindale

South African gold mining firm Gold Fields has agreed to allow a union representative to sit on its tender committee as part of a deal that helped end a recent strike.

Sven Lunsche, corporate affairs manager at the country’s second‑largest gold producer, told SM that an official from the National Union of Mineworkers would be able to witness procurement decision-making.

“We’ve agreed with the union that they can sit in and observe the process and ask questions but they don’t have a decision on who we procure from and are not allowed to vote,” he said.
“This is to ensure there is complete transparency of the process and so they can evaluate whether we are doing enough in terms of transforming our procurement vendor base.”

The mining company also agreed to establish a joint committee with the union that would visit Westonaria - scene of the strike at its South Deep mine - and draw up a list of potential black-owned small and medium-sized enterprises that could supply indirect services such as food, printing and stationery.

“The union might have a better understanding of some of the smaller enterprises than we do so we welcome that input,” said Lunsche. But he added that the company would not compromise on the quality of goods or services.

The strike by workers at South Deep mine in November lasted nine days before an agreement was finally reached. The dispute also focused on the number of black individuals appointed to senior management positions.

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