A tendency has arisen in the mining sector for trade unions to put pressure on the Inspectorate of the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) not to grant temporary permissions to allow production to take place on a Sunday, and not to support applications for any permanent Sunday Labour Permission that can only be granted by the Minister if it is in the national interest to do so, unless the consent of such trade unions has first been obtained.

This is a perversion of the relevant statutory prescripts governing the issuance of such permissions, namely the old Mines & Works Act, which does not require union consent as a pre-requisite for such approvals to be granted.

Furthermore, this perversion is being used by minority trade unions that do not enjoy recognition to put pressure on the employer to capitulate to their demands, usually for a seat at the bargaining table, in exchange for support for the Sunday Labour permits. Such minority unions, in particular, are bypassing the provisions of the Labour Relations Act which is the instrument that regulates the award of organizational rights and the collective bargaining process generally.

This perversion must stop and this relic on our statute books, namely the Mines & Works Act, should be removed. Where health and safety is a consideration in relation to Sunday work, adequate protection of employees is afforded by the Mine Health and Safety Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.