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Industrial relations

Trade union participation is high at our African mining operations. Most of these operations are covered by collective bargaining agreements. Across the whole of De Beers, 41.7 per cent of direct employees are covered by such agreements.

Percentage of employees in CL-band/Grade 2/bands GFB8-10 covered by collective bargaining unit agreements at African operations, 2014-2016 (%)









Debswana Diamond Company




Namdeb (land operations)




Debswana continued to enjoy a stable relationship with the Botswana Mining Workers Union during 2016, working in partnership to resolve any areas of potential disagreement. Members of the union and Debswana management were also trained in collective bargaining.

In Namibia, a dispute occurred during the year about the implementation of a housing allowance. This was resolved by third-party interventions as provided for by Namibian labour legislation.

In South Africa, the company engaged in consultations with the National Union of Mineworkers about the restructuring of De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM) and the implementation of an Employee Share Option Scheme.

In October, we hosted a Relationship by Objectives workshop to enable us to agree clear objectives and timelines for managing the relationship ahead of wage negotiations during 2017.

The objectives included setting an agreement to take a new approach to wage negotiations, with the aim of concluding this approach as early as possible in 2017. During late October and early November 2016, however, there were several days of illegal protest at Venetia mine. This was related to shares in the company’s Ponahalo Equal Allocation Scheme. The trust is part of Ponahalo Investments, the 26 per cent Black Economic Empowerment shareholder in DBCM since May 2006.

The illegal protest action was taken, in spite of all unit holders being made aware of the financial position of the Equal Allocation Trust, and correspondence being sent to each shareholder detailing the initiatives undertaken during 2016 to redeem the shares, and indicating the progress made in this regard.

Following engagements with the National Union of Mineworkers and employees, De Beers finalised a solution for the repurchase of the shares, bringing the illegal protest action to an end.