The mining world’s on her shoulders

2012-10-13 17:20

Dr Elize Strydom apologises before we start a telephonic interview on Wednesday morning.

“Excuse me if I cough in your ear, Sizwe. I’ve got bronchitis.”

I panic as I think she’s about to offer another apology – for bailing out of the interview. I ask if she needs more time, only to hear she’s raring to go.

“No. We’d better do it now. I have many meetings to attend,” she says.

Strydom is the senior executive for employment relations at the SA Chamber of Mines, as well as being a labour law and industrial relations expert with a string of legal qualifications.

Her bronchitis is a side-effect of working around the clock to rescue the country’s mining industry from virtual collapse after illegal strikes.

This week she negotiated with unions on behalf of three of the chambers’ members – AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Harmony – the three giants of the country’s gold-mining industry, with 80% of the entire gold workforce between them.

On Tuesday, she hammered out a wage increase proposal with unions the National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity and Uasa.

She emphasises, though, that the proposed deal was within the parameters of existing wage agreements.

The unions are consulting their members about the new offer and negotiations will resume tomorrow.

She’s been involved in complex wage disputes for the past 10 years and Strydom says the recent ones have been “very stressful”.

“It has been hard going. We’re all aware of how important these engagements are and how critical it is to restore normality as soon as possible.

“It’s in the best interests of the employees, the employers and the country,” she says.

Strydom’s colleagues regard her as a highly knowledgeable and skilful negotiator.

She’s also known to be very empathetic, but still unshakeable.

The chamber’s stakeholder relations senior executive Vusi Mabena says: “Elize knows her subject very well.

“She’s an honest negotiator and very difficult to shift from her mandate. She’s a good listener too, there’s empathy in how she does things.”

She’s well-liked outside the boardroom and “a jolly person who gets along well with people,” Mabena says.

After 17 minutes on the phone Strydom apologises profusely.

“Sorry, Sizwe, I’ve to go. A lot of people are coming into my office.”

She’s off to another meeting.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.