The Department of Mineral Resources’ (DMR’s) Housing and Living Conditions Standard requires mining right holders to assist its employees to strive for home ownership.
Assmang initiated the updating of their housing policy to meet the needs of the employees at all three their Northern Cape operations, namely Black Rock Mine Operations (BRMO), and the Khumani and Beeshoek Mines, as well as to comply with the new South African Mining Charter.
In 2017, the company established the iKhaya Working Committee, consisting of the three trade unions, Assmang senior management, and representatives from the major shareholder African Rainbow Minerals (ARM), to drive this initiative.
Zutari was invited to present a proposal to the committee on how to update the housing policy. The communication and stakeholder engagement team was tasked with designing a process for researching the needs and wants of the employees. The team started the process with numerous workshops structured to ensure that a co-design process is followed during the compilation of the new housing policy. This meant organising in-depth engagement with mine workers living and working on shifts in remote areas of the Northern Cape Province to ensure that a new policy would be appropriate to their circumstances.
The Zutari team started with digital surveys, reaching 77% of all employees, to assess their current housing situation and their aspirations. The information that was gathered was then verified during focus group meetings with as many employees as possible.
The client saw Zutari’s co-design and engagement approach as a fresh new way to bring opposing parties together.
A significant challenge was the unions initially trying to turn the focus of the project to wage negotiations and them having preconceived views regarding the new housing policy. However, the team skilfully narrowed the housing options to six that would offer an acceptable choice for each mine worker.
Some significant improvements compared with the old housing policy are:
Subsidies or loans will be available to employees who prefer to reside in tribal areas
Employees who have lost their credit rating can make use of a debt counselling service
Employees may now choose to buy a house anywhere in the country
Spouses who work at the mine can also qualify for a housing benefit
The client saw Zutari’s co-design and engagement approach as a fresh new way to bring opposing parties together. It enabled everyone, from management to organised labour, irrespective of their role or level, to have an equal opportunity to provide input and be heard.
*The Aurecon Africa business has been officially renamed Zutari as at 21 July 2020. Zutari acquired Aurecon Middle East on 20 November 2020.