Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said the union had exhausted the internal dispute resolution mechanisms at all companies, save for Impala Platinum. File Photo: IOL

JOHANNESBURG – The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has referred the ongoing wage negotiations in the platinum sector to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for conciliation.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa on Tuesday said the union had exhausted the internal dispute resolution mechanisms at all companies, save for Impala Platinum, where it planned to call a mass meeting this week to engage with members. 

“We have referred mutual interest disputes to the CCMA, and we are positive the CCMA will facilitate progress and resolution so we may conclude these negotiations and get back to work,” said Mathunjwa. He said after three months of negotiations at Sibanye-Stillwater, Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum since the wage talks began in July, Amcu had yet to reach an agreement with the employers.

“While we are making good progress with Anglo American Platinum and Impala, who have both crossed the R1 000 mark, Sibanye-Stillwater remains a stumbling block,” said Mathunjwa. He said the first problem arose when Sibanye-Stillwater insisted to have parallel engagements for its operations at Rustenburg Platinum Mine and the operations formerly belonging to Lonmin.

“The reason for this approach is quite simple: They are trying to isolate their different operations and avoid the principle of harmonisation and cross-subsidisation. This enabled them to insult former Lonmin workers by offering a measly R300 increase at the start,” said Mathunjwa.

Amcu is the majority union in South Africa’s platinum belt and initially tabled a R17 000 per month salary from its previous call for an R12 500 for the lowest-paid worker. The R17 000 is now a “progressive” target after members gave the union a mandate to look at an increase of R1 500 for every year of a three-year wage agreement. “We do not want to delay the wage negotiations. But the mandate is clear, we are not going to accept anything less than R1 000,” said Mathunjwa.

On Monday, Sibanye-Stillwater confirmed that it had received a notice from Amcu on plans to refer the wage talks to the CCMA. Sibanye-Stillwater which merged with Lonmin, said the referral to the CCMA  followed internal dispute resolution processes, and that the company continued to engage constructively with the union in an attempt to conclude a fair and sustainable wage agreement. “The notice of referral of the dispute requires the CCMA to appoint a commissioner who will assist the parties in an attempt to resolve the dispute within the required statutory period of 30 days,” said Sibanye-Stillwater.

On Tuesday, Anglo American Platinum spokesperson Jana Marais also confirmed Amcu had notified the company it had referred a wage dispute to the CCMA  for conciliation. 

“Amcu has also requested a meeting with the company outside of the CCMA process, demonstrating the willingness of the parties to continue engaging,” she said.

She said the company was confident the parties could reach a mutually beneficial settlement. Earlier Mathunjwa  blamed mine bosses for stealing from the workers.