Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Sibanye-Stillwater warns of possible job cuts

On Thursday, Sibanye-Stillwater said it may retrench over 6 000 jobs at shafts on its Beatrix and Driefontein gold mining operations due to ongoing financial losses in 2018.

It notified stakeholders that it was embarking on the possible restructuring of its gold operations following “numerous initiatives to contain losses… which have thus far proven to be unsuccessful.”

The mining company has been hit by safety incidents in the first half of 2018, and by protest action by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) over wage increases in the latter part of last year.

The union has been insisting on a R1 000 wage increase while its fellow trade unions National Union of Mineworkers (Num), Solidarity and the United Association of South Africa (UASA) took a R700 a month increase in the first and second years, and R825 a month in the third year to some categories of employees.

“Sibanye-Stillwater management has consistently highlighted the operational and financial risks associated with the underperformance of these shafts at future forum meetings, which have been held regularly with stakeholders including the unions,” it said.

The company says together with affected stakeholders it will look at measures to avoid and mitigate possible retrenchments and seek alternatives to the potential cessation or down-scaling of operations at the affected shafts.

The company is expecting to announce losses of R1-billion at its results scheduled for next week, it said in a trading statement, also issued on Thursday.

Fellow union Solidarity said the news was unsurprising and called for AMCU to end its strike now.

At the start of the salary negotiations in June 2018, Sibanye had already indicated that an unsatisfactory wage settlement could lead to thousands of job losses, said Gideon du Plessis, General Secretary of Solidarity.

He also criticised Amcu’s handling of the strike.

“AMCU’S competent negotiators were replaced after three months of negotiations by new negotiators who did not even want to consider the sustainability of the gold sector and especially Sibyane, and clearly had ulterior motives,” said du Plessis,

He said if possible retrenchments takes place, it will be AMCU members who will be affected as they work at the shafts which are performing badly.

Due to the lengthy strike, the union has further widened the gap of unemployment, Du Plessis argued.

“If we use the multiplying factor of an average of 10 dependants per mineworker, Amcu has now dumped thousands of people in poverty. Apart from the job losses, a number of people have already been murdered and numerous houses were burnt down, which is directly related to the strike,” Du Plessis added.

The news of possible retrenchments coincided with the release of bleak mining production data, released by Statistics South Africa.

Mining production decreased by 4.8% year-on-year in December 2018, said Stats SA.

This was mainly due to the negative performance of gold, iron ore, copper, chromium ore and ‘other’ metallic minerals.

FNB chief economist Mamello Matikinca-Ngwenya, attributed the low gold production to the AMCU strike at the Sibanye-Stillwater gold operation.

The year ahead would be a bumpy one for the sector she warned.

“We are concerned about the outlook for 2019… as rising input costs, low commodity prices, electrical generation and slowing Chinese growth present material downside risks to the mining sector,” Matikinca-Ngwenya said.

In a statement minister of mineral resource Gwede Mantashe said he will engage with stakeholders at Sibanye to try and find an amicable solution to explore “all possible options to ensure as many jobs as possible are saved during the restructuring”. He called on all stakeholders to negotiate in good faith.

AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa was not immediately available for comment. 

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Tshegofatso Mathe
Tshegofatso Mathe
Tshegofatso Mathe is a financial trainee journalist at the Mail & Guardian.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Family wants clarity on SANDF soldier killed in friendly fire...

Corporal Simanga Khuselo join the peacekeeping mission in the DRC to save money to build his family a home

SA soldiers have been fighting in a distant land for...

Troops were sent to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2001 as part of the UN peacekeeping mission that became an offensive against rebels

More top stories

Roads decimate West Africa’s chimpanzee population

The species face mounting pressure from roads and infrastructure development in Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone

South Africa gets major investment to treat Covid-19, TB, cancer,...

President Cyril Ramaphosa welcomed the investment, noting that it ‘is a leapfrog to cutting edge technology’

Mining industry vaccinates over 200 000 workers, mandatory vaccination not...

Minerals Council aims to get 80% of its workforce vaccinated by November

Despite inflation risks, the monetary policy committee keeps rates on...

Inflation rose well beyond the Reserve Bank’s midpoint target in August
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×