Contracting, Complexity And Control: An Overview Of The Changing Nature Of Subcontracting In The South African Mining Industry

Kenny, B.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1999
The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of existing forms of subcontracting in the South African mining industry. A descriptive framework is developed to understand different subcontracting arrangements. We argue that, in order to do so, it is important to distinguish between labour broking and gang subcontracting. Data resulting from a research project (including an analysis of historical sources, interviews with contractors and focus group interviews with mineworkers) is presented to highlight the implications of changing formations of subcontracting for the South African mining industry in the late 1990s. Apart from the subcontracting of ?traditional? functions, such as shaft sinking, access development, catering and hostel maintenance, contractors are now used in ?core? mining activities. In some instances, whole shafts are ?outsourced? to outside agencies. It is argued that certain of the subcontracting arrangements have serious implications for the ability of the mining industry to improve health and safety standards. Some of the practices can potentially result in conflict between different categories of workers, and, as a result, instability in the industry.
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