Human rights

Zimplats, Zimbabwe

Highlights Disappointments Opportunities
  • Implats a signatory to the UN Global Compact (UNGC).
  • New Human Rights policy developed and signed by the CEO.
  • Employees at the company’s Zimbabwean operations continue to suffer hardships as a result of strained socio-economic and political circumstances in that country.
  • Further and continued implementation of the Human Rights policy and compliance with the United Nations Global Compact.

Management approach

Concern for and the upholding of human rights are integral to the company’s values and code of ethics. Provisions for human rights and the elimination of discrimination are entrenched in the Constitution of South Africa, and in labour relations and employment equity legislation in both South Africa and Zimbabwe. Furthermore, policies and agreements with unions are in place at an operational level and cover many issues relating to human rights, with collective bargaining and discrimination being primary areas of focus.

Compliance with the human rights policy is overseen by the Group Executive Committee: PeopleCo. The PeopleCo meets on a monthly basis. During this meeting policies, strategies and procedures relating to human rights are standard agenda items for discussion. Position papers and policies are linked to the relevant structures and committees of the board for review and approval.

In FY2009, Implats was confirmed as a signatory to the UNGC on Human Rights and Security. The group developed and adopted a new Human Rights policy during the year – this is available on the website. A concerted effort was made to evaluate existing policies, guidelines and procedures against the Human Rights policy. Where discrepancies were found, these policies, guidelines and procedures were changed and communicated to the relevant managers for approval and implementation. In this way, management, employees and community members were made aware of the Human Rights policy.

Embedded within this policy are the following:

  • the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining;
  • the prevention of child labour;
  • the prevention of forced or compulsory labour;
  • the equality and fair treatment of all individuals, irrespective of race, sex and physical ability; and
  • the need to train security personnel to uphold these policies.

Collective bargaining is integral to all of the company’s operations, with direct union participation at a number of levels and on a range of issues. Around 70% of the company’s employees are unionised or catered for through collective bargaining agreements. (See the Human Capital section).

It remains a concern to the company that, although freedom of association is enshrined within the constitution of Zimbabwe, strikes are not permitted at an operational level. Implats ensures that its group policies and procedures are upheld in Zimbabwe.

Implats requires that its contractors adopt the policies and procedures of the company, including its Human Rights policy. While contractor agreements do not specifically contain human rights clauses, contractors are expected to adhere to the South African constitution and law within which these rights are entrenched, and the group’s own policies. This applies equally in Zimbabwe.

Performance in FY2009

No incidents of human rights abuses were alleged against the company during the year. Several incidents of discrimination were reported at the operations during the year. All incidents were investigated, the necessary hearings were held and outcomes appropriately dealt with.

An area of concern for the company is the strained socioeconomic and political climate in Zimbabwe, with the consequent impact on the many employees of the company and their families in that country. Both Zimplats and Mimosa have sought to alleviate the hardships faced by their communities, by providing foodstuffs, water (during the cholera crisis), medical care and housing.

Objectives for FY2010

As a recent signatory to the UNGC, the Implats group has set as a priority the full implementation of the UNGC throughout the group, including its further communication to employees and contractors and monitoring adherence. Adherence to the Compact and its principles will be monitored.

Implats Sustainable Development Report 2009