Glencore denies preferring to retrench women employees

ALLEGATIONS that Glencore’s Optimum Coal Mines in South Africa is targeting female employees for retrenchment are baseless, according to the company.

Lou Caruana

Female employees make up only 15% of the total affected employees, it said.

Glencore announced in January that its subsidiary, Optimum Coal Mines, was considering the closure of certain of its open cut operations, large portions of the coal processing plants, and associated support services at the mine potentially affecting 1067 employees.

“Through various engagements and company initiatives the impact has been significantly mitigated,” it said.

“Optimum is now proceeding with the closure of these operations which will result in the retrenchment of approximately 380 employees.

“About 250 additional employees have opted for voluntary severance packages and 96 were redeployed to other Glencore operations.”

The decision to close these operations is a result of the ongoing hardship at Optimum arising from difficult market conditions and the continued deterioration in the export coal price, according to Glencore.

“To mitigate the impact of this decision, Optimum has over the past few months engaged in an extensive CCMA-facilitated section 189 consultation process with organised labour and the Department of Mineral Resources in order to determine whether measures were available to avoid the closure of such operations and the resultant job losses.

“It was demonstrated during these sessions that these operations are financially not viable in the current market conditions and that there are no measures available to avoid the retrenchments. The affected operations will be placed on care and maintenance.”

Glencore has agreed to provide funding to Optimum to pay the full retrenchment costs as tabled at the CCMA and Optimum will offer assistance to affected employees through retraining programmes to enable them to plan for the future. This includes training in areas such as portable skills and financial management.

The retrenchment packages offered are above the industry standard, according to Glencore.

It would also consider redeploying some of the employees to other parts of the Glencore business should vacancies be available.