DRIEFONTEIN – Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) members are determined to remain on strike at three Sibanye-Stillwater gold mining operations, two at Driefontein, west of Johannesburg, and one in the Free State near Theunissen, the union said on Saturday.
"As the Sibanye-Stillwater gold sector strike nears its sixth month, members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) remain resolute to continue their strike action," Amcu said in a statement.
Following Monday’s mass meeting, thousands of Amcu members gathered at Masizakhele Stadium in Driefontein on Friday to hear Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa outline the next step in the ongoing gold sector wage strike at Sibanye-Stillwater.
At least 15,000 Amcu members downed tools on November 21, 2018 at Driefontein, Kloof, and Beatrix mines, demanding higher wages "after the mining company signed an Amcu-negotiated wage agreement with other three unions".
"Amcu members are demanding R1000 yearly wage increments for the next three years, while the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity, and Uasa [United Association of South Africa] accepted an increase of R750 per year for the next three years. The central mass meeting [on Friday] was called to give members an update of the latest developments after Monday’s mass meeting," Amcu said.
Addressing the meeting, Mathunjwa said the strike had gone on this long because the Amcu leadership "takes its mandate of representing members seriously and they cannot be bribed".
“Various parties have tried everything in their power to end the strike, but all their attempts have failed. We have faced many challenges since the strike commenced, but we need to remain courageous because this is not an easy road. This is not a fight between employer and workers, it has become a political matter now and that is the reason why government has remained silent on this matter,” said Mathunjwa.
“The lack of intervention by government and their silence during our strike is evident that this is more than just a wage dispute. Amcu leadership met after Monday’s mass meeting to look at the latest developments. We heard you as members and you gave us the mandate for the strike to continue and we will continue fighting for you.”
The decision taken by Sibanye-Stillwater not to accept the a Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA) proposal "was evident that this was no longer a wage dispute". The CCMA had proposed a payment of R5700, coupled with other issues as contained in the previous settlement agreement. These included a salary advance of R5000, debt consolidation, non-deductions of employer contributions to benefits, death benefits for employees who died during the strike, as well as disciplinary issues.
“At CCMA, we gave Sibanye-Stillwater a discount, but they decided to play hardball. The strike can end anytime, but it is up to Sibanye-Stillwater to give in to the worker’s demands. At some point the decision will have to be taken because the strike cannot go on forever. Sibanye-Stillwater management must leave politics to politicians and resolve this wage dispute. We want to tell Sibanye-Stillwater management that today [Friday] is not the end of the strike, but this was a meeting to give an update on important matters,” he said.
African News Agency (ANA)