JOHANNESBURG – The future of the secondary strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) hinges on the Labour Court ruling which is expected this week.
Amcu has promised to abide by the ruling.
South Africa's mining giants, including Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin, are among 15 mining companies that have approached the Labour Court to interdict the secondary strike.
Amcu planned to down tools today in a secondary strike in sympathy with 15000 members who have been on strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Beatrix, Driefontein and Kloof gold operations to demand a wage hike of R1 000 a month.
This was despite Sibanye agreeing with three other unions on a R700 a month increase for the first two years of a wage agreement and R825 in the third year.
Amcu national treasurer Jimmy Gama said yesterday that the strike had been placed on hold until the legal process was completed.
“The strike has been postponed pending the outcome of the court process. “If the court says it is wrong, we will not take our members on an unprotected strike. If we feel the court has misjudged the case, we will appeal,” Gama said.
The mining companies have argued that the strike was illegal as they are not able to influence wage talks at Sibanye-Stillwater.
Sibanye said earlier this month that the strike cost the company up to R20million a day and was not in the interest of employees.
It also said that it had embarked on a consultative process with organised labour on the possible restructuring of its loss-making Beatrix 1 and Driefontein 2, 6, 7 and 8 shafts.
The company said that the restructuring would likely lead to 6678 contractors losing their jobs.
Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa previously called on investors to dump Sibanye-Stillwater and for its chief executive Neal Froneman to resign.
Amcu will also use the strike to pressure Sibanye to can its plan to cut about 7000 employees at its ailing gold mines.
Mining companies argued in the Labour Court that one of the requirements for a secondary strike as set out in Section 66 of the Labour Relations Act was that “the nature and extent of the secondary strike is reasonable in relation to the possible direct or indirect effect that the secondary strike may have on the business of the primary employer”.
The reason for this requirement was to ensure that the secondary employer can exercise some influence over the outcome of the primary strike. The companies also argued the harm caused to the secondary employer must be proportional to the impact of the secondary strike on the primary employer.
According to documents seen by Business Report, Amcu also wants the Minerals Council to intervene in the strike.
The Minerals Council rejected the argument, saying that the Membership Compact is an internal aspirational document intended to rally all members around a common set of values and ethics, and was not intended to apply to collective bargaining matters, which are distinct and separate from the primary role and function of the Minerals Council.