Workers clearly do not support strike action, insists Sibanye-Stillwater

Sibanye-Stillwater has urged labour to reconsider their decision to strike at the mining company’s gold operations, stating that union members clearly do not support such action.

The statement follows a joint media release by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) announcing their decision to intensify strike action at Sibanye’s gold mines. 

The strike, which relates to an impasse in wage negotiations between management and unions, entered its second month last week. The NUM and Amcu are demanding a wage increase of R1 000 a month for the mine’s lowest-paid workers. Sibanye is offering R700.

The NUM and Amcu noted that the mines have made a killing in the wake of the commodity boom. Last year Sibanye-Stillwater’s earnings rose to a record R36.9-billion, from R29.1-billion in 2020, when the last record was set. Revenue rose by 35% to more than R170-billion, driven by increased production in the mine’s platinum group metals (PGM) operations.

But the mine says the unions’ demands will threaten the sustainability of its operations by adding R2.5-billion to its wage bill. 

“We will not be coerced into acceding to demands which are not inflation related, unaffordable and threaten the sustainability of our operations,” said Richard Cox, Sibanye’s executive vice-president of the company’s South African gold operations.  

On Thursday, Sibanye said in a statement that although the company respects the rights of workers to strike, unions should reconsider their efforts “in the interests of striking employees who clearly do not support the strike”. 

A lack of support for the strike is evidenced by the very low worker participation in protests at picketing sites and the constant resignation of members from the NUM and Amcu, Sibanye said.

Striking workers have lost about R790-million in wages, said Cox. The government, he added, has lost about R90-million in employee tax contributions “and significantly more in lost taxes and mining royalties”.

“Striking category 4 to 8 employees have already lost more than the cumulative value of the final increase offered by Sibanye-Stillwater over the first two years of the wage period, as well as the cumulative value of the R300 per month difference between the company’s offer and the unions’ demand over the full three-year period,” Sibanye’s statement noted.

“Should the strike continue until the end of April, striking employees would have lost all value they could have gained from a wage increase.”

In their statement announcing the escalated strike action, the NUM and Amcu accused Sibanye of being the “worst employer among workers”.

“As Amcu and NUM, we will not spare any cent to relieve the workers from the shackles of [Sibanye chief executive Neal] Froneman. We will not allow him to continue to exploit our people by using the minerals that belong to the people,” the unions said.

“He is not the government, and he is not the owner of the minerals.”

The unions also announced they would be giving notice of a secondary strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s platinum operations, where wage talks are currently underway. This will include the Rustenburg and Marikana operations and will involve almost 35 000 workers downing tools, the unions said.

However, Sibanye said it has not yet received such a notice. “Wage negotiations at the Sibanye-Stillwater SA PGM operations have not started and are only scheduled to begin in June-July this year as per previous years.”

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

DRC: The war that doesn’t say its name

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo conflict, as well as peacemaking, have become ends in themselves, while the fighting is carried forward by its own momentum

The best booze and chocolate pairings

On World Chocolate Day on 7 July, experience chocolate like never before, paired with your favourite adult drink

Relief: Government must guard SA’s poor against inflation’s assault

It could prove difficult for government to loosen its grip on the public purse, but economists say the current extraordinary circumstances require intervention

Jesus wants to emulate boyhood hero Henry after sealing Arsenal...

The Brazil international revealed he was a big Arsenal fan as a youngster, having been captivated by Henry during the France star's successful spell in north London.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×