Employer-employee relationships at Lonmin Platinum: a developing South African perspective

20 September 2012

More than ever, companies are confronted with the importance of developing and maintaining relationships with their strategic stakeholders, such as employees. These relationships should be aimed at balancing the interests of the company with the interests of said stakeholders. Managing relationships with stakeholders is difficult in itself and even more so within the complex context of the South African mining industry. The aim of this article is to determine guidelines that could be used to ascertain employer-employee relationship type and relationship quality in the mining sector. In 2004, a quantitative questionnaire survey was conducted with a stratified quota sample of 508 company employees as part of a commissioned stakeholder perception survey. In addition, qualitative focus-group sessions were conducted to contextualise and clarify the quantitative results. The research indicated that the employer-employee relationship at Lonmin Platinum could be classified as an exchange, rather than a communal relationship. Employees generally perceived the quality of their relationship with the company in a negative way. Employees from all job levels had low levels of trust in the company. This study contributes to a growing body of research aimed at trying to understand the nature of employer-employee relations within large companies in a developing society, where companies are faced with the challenge of communicating to and managing diverse workforces.