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This article is taken from the December 2003 Phatlalatsa newsletter

 

Anglo Platinum Research Project

Anglo Platinum Research Project imageAnglo Platinum has established a Collective Partnership Forum (CPF), which has established a Wage Agreement, and a Standing BCEA Committee to ensure future compliance to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA). Strategy & Tactics have been commissioned to undertake a quantitative and qualitative research project to support the work of the BCEA Committee.

Background and context

Anglo Platinum operates a group of platinum mines. Many of its employees work according to an Eleven Shift Fortnight (ESF) System. This system forms part of the broader economic and social value creation system that is Anglo Platinum. Anglo Platinum, together with its union stakeholders, is required to bring about changes to this system in order to ensure future compliance to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).

To that end (as well as others) it has established a Collective Partnership Forum (CPF), which has established a Wage Agreement, and a Standing BCEA Committee. A project to pilot the workability of an Alternative Shift System (Five-Day Work Week System) has been executed. This pilot project delivered mixed results. Subsequently the BCEA Committee was given a mandate by the CPF to:

  • study and evaluate the BCEA Pilot Project's final report
  • identify both negative and positive outcomes from the BCEA Pilot Project
  • interview relevant employees and management at Union Section (a Business Unit)
  • explore other alternatives to the Eleven Shift Fortnight (ESF) system
  • make final written recommendation on shift configurations to the CPF Steering Committee.

Against this background, and following an intensive procurement process, Strategy & Tactics have been commissioned to undertake a quantitative and qualitative research project to support the work of the BCEA Committee. The objectives of the research project to:

  • understand from all employees working an ESF arrangement, their needs, preferences and interests (based on a representative sample), with respect to working shift arrangements in the light of business unit requirements
  • understand from the relevant Business Units their requirements, constraints and interests from a business perspective of alternative shift arrangements
  • understand how employees were impacted by the change in work schedule during a five-day week pilot project at union section
  • understand what are the current shift working practices in respect of similar mining operations
  • develop a draft evaluation criteria matrix against which the alternative shift arrangements developed by the stakeholders can be assessed.

Research and project methods

In short the project method consists of four primary phases as follows:

Phase 1 Immersion: A process by which researchers immerse themselves in the context of the subject primarily to inform the design of research instruments.

Phase 1 Instrument Design: The design, prototyping, piloting, refinement and final development of primary research instruments (data gathering methods - processes and tools) including those for Quantitative Closed Surveys, Qualitative In-depth Interviews and Qualitative Focus Groups.

Phase 2 Data Gathering: There are several data gathering exercises:

  • Literature survey
    • explore experiences/alternatives from other mining operations with respect to shift arrangements
  • Quantitative data gathering
    • 1 600 survey interviews (5% of workforce)
    • generate representative data (per mine and employee level)
    • target managers, supervisors and operators at each mine
  • Data/documentation from company databases
    • mine plans and appropriate achievement/performance measures per mine, covering safety, square meters, primary meters, target stoping widths, target sweeping, direct costs and labour plans
  • l Qualitative data gathering
    • 60 in-depth interviews targeting managers, supervisors and operators at each mine
    • 20 focus groups to provide for group dialogue targeting management, union leadership and combined group at each mine.

Phase 3 Analysis: The processing and coding of information and data to emerge preliminary finding across the respective gathering streams.

Phase 4 Formulation and Production: The comparison of findings across streams and the synthesis of findings to reveal primary conclusions. The production of a conceptual model (draft evaluation matrix) against which the alternative shift arrangements developed by the stakeholders can be assessed.

 

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