The Elijah Barayi Memorial Training Centre, a Mineworkers Investment Trust (MIT) beneficiary, is in the process of receiving full accreditation as a further education and training (FET) college, which will enable the trust to equip its members with the skills to engage with their employers, which could assist with labour issues.
The MIT was established by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in 1995 as a wealth-creating entity to uplift and improve the quality of life for its members, former members, their families and communities in the mining, energy and construction industries.
The trust is the sole shareholder of the Mineworkers Investment Company, which allows the MIT to make a meaningful contribution to its beneficiaries, comprising the Mineworkers Development Agency (MDA), the JB Marks Education Trust Fund and the Elijah Barayi Memorial Centre.
Since the trust’s inception, R368-million has been raised to improve the lives of its members and provide them with education, enabling them to improve their circumstances in the long term, says MIT COO Simphiwe Nanise.
He notes that all courses offered by the Elijah Barayi Memorial Training Centre are available free of charge to union members.
The centre offers facilities for the training and capacity building of union members and generates income by providing conferencing, catering and accommodation services to the public, with top-up funding supplied by the MIT to ensure training courses remain cost effective and within reach of civil-society structures.
In 2011 the MIT helped the centre acquire new premises in Midrand, expanding its capacity to provide services to unions, nongovernment organisations and small businesses.
The centre applied for FET accreditation in 2011 and obtained partial accreditation, as it needs to meet certain require- ments, such as offering a labour law course, to receive full accreditation.
The MIT offered a pilot labour law course, comprising a nine-month curriculum, in the first half of 2012 and states that there was much interest from its members. “We are proudly marketing this course through the NUM and hope to generate more interest during 2013,” Nanise states.
“The course enables members to understand the labour laws that affect them directly and to know their rights. Educating our members is our main focus.”
The MIT notes that about 500 members a year graduate from its training centre. “Our courses on labour law, the South African business environment, organisational development and generic coursework are aimed at enhancing their employability.”
Nanise notes that, while the implementation of the labour law course was not as a result of labour issues experienced in 2012, it will educate mineworkers about labour laws and their associated rights, enabling them to communicate effectively with mining companies.
“The labour unrest and the resultant deaths at Marikana last year were unfortunate and emphasised the need for South Africa to pay attention to the social issues of the mining industry.”
Last year, wildcat strikes broke out at platinum miner Lonmin’s Marikana mine, in Rustenburg, claiming the lives of 46 people before the strikes and violence spread from the platinum belt to other sectors, such as gold mining, undermining investor confidence in Africa’s biggest economy.
Social issues are the biggest challenges faced by mineworkers, Nanise stresses. “Owing to a shortage of jobs in South Africa, mineworkers are responsible for extended families. Therefore, their salaries are inadequate to cater not only to their own needs, but also to those of their families.
He points out that some mineworkers are also heavily indebted to loan facilities. “Some workers don’t have any money left once they have been paid.
“Educating our members through courses, such as labour law, will empower them with the knowledge and skills to build brighter futures and pressure mining companies to comply with social requirements.”
Mining companies are required to set aside a budget to improve mine communities in their areas of operation, according to the South African Mining Charter. “To date, not much of that has happened, which is why we see an increase in labour issues across industries,” Nanise states.
When miners apply for a mining licence, they are required to state how they will contribute towards community development in the areas where they will operate.
He asserts that there is not enough compliance from the mines with regard to meeting social obligations, which is exacerbated by a lack of regulatory authorities to enforce compliance.
“The Department of Mineral Resources acknowledges that not all mines comply with the Mining Charter and the department does not have the capacity to ensure compliance from all of them.”
“We can only hope that after the events of 2012, things will improve.”
JB Marks Education Trust Fund
Nanise states that the MIT plans to increase the number of bursaries it awards and to provide bursaries for postgraduate studies, funds permitting.
There is much interest in the bursaries provided by the JB Marks Education Trust Fund, as more than 1 000 applications are received each year and only about 200 are approved, he notes, adding that 250 bursaries were awarded in 2012 to students studying at various tertiary institutions.
“Our bursary scheme, established in 1997, is the MIT’s biggest accomplishment. To date, we have produced more than 948 graduates in various fields, such as the medical and engineering fields, through the JB Marks Education Trust Fund,” Nanise notes.
The fund provides bursaries for NUM members and their dependants, which cover the cost of schooling and tertiary education. It has assisted in educating more than 4 000 bursary recipients and is investing in the education of 250 new students each year.
“The main goal of the fund is to increase the number of black graduates entering the mining, energy and construction industries,” says Nanise.
Besides being union members or dependants of union members, bursary recipients also need to acquire certain grades in matric. “A large chunk of the bursaries are for tertiary education and, therefore, a matriculation exemption, which allows studying at a tertiary institution, is needed to qualify.”
He notes that the JB Marks Education Trust Fund and the MIT hosted their third yearly JB Marks Education Trust Fund Awards in May last year.
“These awards provide encouragement and are used by the JB Marks Education Trust Fund as a tool to combat drop-out and failure rates among students challenged by the discipline of prolonged study in a new environment,” Nanise adds.
“We believe that it’s important to increase the number of graduates and not just the number of bursaries awarded – that is the measure of return on investment,” says JB Marks Education Trust Fund principal officer Jaco Mokgosi.
The Most Consistent Learner Award and JB Marks Merit Awards were presented. The Merit Awards went to three students who achieved the highest aggregate mark and who completed their studies within the prescribed timeframe.
JB Marks Course Awards were presented to the seven top achievers in the fields of commerce and management, engi- neering and the built environment, science, social sciences, computer studies and technology, medical studies and the arts and performing arts.
In addition, the Lifetime Achiever Award and the JB Marks Leader of The Year Award, for a member of the JB Marks graduate group who contributed the most to community development, were also presented.