/ 13 June 2022

Sibanye-Stillwater wage deadlock lifted

Visit To Sibanye Stillwater Khuseleka Platinum Mine
South African mining output decreased by 0.8% in May. Photo: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Sibanye-Stillwater’s prolonged strike has come to an end after the mining company signed a three-year wage deal with unions for its gold operations, effective 1 July. 

The country’s biggest gold mining company said on Monday that as a result of the wage deal, the lockout of members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) had been lifted. 

Amcu and the NUM began the strike on 9 March until the wage agreement was signed on 11 June. 

“The signed wage agreement is in line with management’s attempts to achieve an inflation related increase with this agreement resulting in an average 6.3% increase over a three-year period,” Sibanye-Stillwater said in a statement

Unions and mine workers were demanding a R1 000 increase a year, which the company said was “not sustainable”, sticking instead to an offer of R800. The impasse lasted for three months. 

On average, as of 11 June, day 94 of the no-work-no-pay strike, category four employees have lost R51 888 each in wages, while category eight employees have forfeited R64 296, according to Sibanye-Stillwater’s daily count

The parties agreed on a wage deal that will see categories four to eight mineworkers receive an increase of R1 000 (7.7%) in year one, R900 (6.5%) in year two and R750 (5.2%) in year three.

Artisans and officials will receive an average increase of 5% in year one, 5.5% in year two and 5% in year three.

Additionally, categories four to eight employees, artisans and officials will receive a once-off hardship allowance of R3 000, which consists of a guaranteed R1 200 cash payment with the balance of up to R1 800 allocated to the reduction of employee debt or loans owing to the company, which includes medical aid contributions and risk benefits covered during the lockout.

The operational start-up of the mines will be in a phased manner over two to three months, Sibanye-Stillwater said.

“We look forward to restarting our South African gold operations for the benefit of all stakeholders,” chief executive Neal Froneman said. “We are pleased to have achieved an agreement which is in line with inflation and which will contribute significantly to the sustainability of our gold operations.”

The final agreement has also been extended to all members of the UASA and Solidarity unions.

Anathi Madubela is an Adamela Trust business reporter at the M&G.