The social responsibility of the South African mining companies dealing with HIV/AIDS employees
Du Plessis, Wympje
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Organisations play a major and increasingly important role in the lives of us all, especially with the growth of large-scale business and the divorce of ownership from management. The decisions and actions of management in organisations have an increasing impact on individuals, other organisations and the community. The power and influence which many business now exercise should be tempered, therefore, by an attitude of responsibility by management. The importance of the exercise of social responsibility can no longer be based on the assumption that the self-interest of the owner of the property will lead to the public good, or that self-interest and public good can be kept apart and considered to have nothing to do with each other. On the contrary, it requires of the manager that he assume responsibility for the public good, that he subordinate his actions to an ethical standard of conduct, and that he restrain his self-interest and his authority wherever their exercise would infringe upon the common weal and upon the freedom of the individual. South Africa is one of the countries with the fastest growing incidents of HIV/AIDS in the world. More people are living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa than in any other country in the world. Just in the past decade, the life expectancy in South Africa has dropped from 67 to 43 years. The social and economic impact of the disease is hard to overstate. HIV/AIDS affect companies through its impact on costs, on productivity, and on the demand for products. Competitiveness can be directly and adversely affected as companies are obliged to increase worker-related expenses for health benefits or insurance that are utilised more as result of the epidemic. Even without monetary outlays, the economic costs can be substantial. Absenteeism rises both directly, as workers begin to show HIV/AIDS symptoms and require more sick leave, and indirectly, as HIV/AIDS deaths increase and co-workers take leave to attend increasingly frequent funerals. In the medium term, company productivity will be hit, as the death of so many workers means that companies must constantly hire replacements, which raises training costs and lowers the average work experience - and hence productivity - of the labour force. The objective of this study is to determine the social responsibility of the South African mining companies dealing with HIV/AIDS employees and included the following aims: To develop a comprehensive HIV/AIDS intervention strategy to manage HIV/AIDS at the workplace. To guide the employer in implementing the anti-HIV/AIDS programme in the workplace. To support the employer in addressing the HIV/AIDS-related health, living, safety and working conditions of employees. The most important conclusions that could be drawn from this study are: Resistance to change is found even when the goals of change are highly desirable. The change process involves learning something new, as well as discontinuing current attitudes, behaviours, or organisational practices. The recognition of the importance of the social responsibility can be gauged in part by the extent of government action and legislation on such matters as, for example, employment protection, equal opportunities, companies acts, consumer law, product liability, health, and safeguarding the environment. More information is needed on the social, political, and economical costs of HIV/AIDS epidemic. Many managers fear that if information about HIV prevalence, and programmes are made public, their company's image will suffer. The impact of HIV/AIDS on the workforce especially on productivity, absenteeism, health, safety, working conditions and intervention programmes.