Johannesburg - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the biggest organised labour union in the gold sector, planned to snub Sibanye Gold’s R25 monthly “stability premium”, if the company failed to negotiate through centralised bargaining led by the Chamber of Mines.
Sibanye planned to implement the R25 monthly “stability premium” across the board following its negotiations with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) in a desperate bid to avert a wage strike.
This was despite Sibanye signing a three-year wage deal for a 12 percent increase with the NUM, Solidarity and Uasa in October.
NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said: “For NUM to accept (the) offer Sibanye must table the offer through a centralised bargaining process led by the Chamber of Mines. It must not be unilaterally implemented. NUM is waiting to have a meeting with Sibanye through the chamber, nothing has been confirmed.”
Sibanye’s chief executive Neal Froneman has previously said the company will not reopen wage negotiations after penning the deal with the three unions.
Sibanye spokesman James Wellsted said the company was still in discussion with the three unions.
“We will continue to engage unions. We have to work out the implementation of the premium as we go. Having said that we don’t intend to reopen wage negations,” he said.
Solidarity warned yesterday that while both unprotected and protected strike action had reduced dramatically since the wildcat strikes of 2012, and the five-month platinum belt wage strike of 2014, Sibanye’s decision to commit to a R25 monthly “stability premium” would likely fuel labour unrest.
Du Plessis blamed Sibanye for betraying labour, destroying collective bargaining in the gold industry and negotiating outside the bargaining forum.
“Amcu now knows how easy it is to call Sibanye’s chief executive Neal Froneman’s bluff. We demand a proper explanation for (the) irrational decision and the reason why we were not kept in the loop as bargaining partners.
“We also want an explanation of how the bargaining structure will be restored,” Du Plessis said.
Sibanye was the only mining company that was buying assets despite the slump in the mining industry, including the acquisition of Anglo American Platinum’s Rustenburg operations.
“We predict Sibanye’s platinum negotiations with Amcu; Amcu will have the upper hand. Sibanye has traded a short-term gain for long-term pain,” Du Plessis said.
Franz Stehring, a divisional manager for the minerals at Uasa, said the union backed the premium. Stehring said the union wanted the amendment to be done at a central and not a company level, under the auspices of the Chamber of Mines.
“One cannot play with lives. If Sibanye wants to implement it, they must implement it. It carries our approval in light of safety and health. At the end of the day it is our members that would be hurt, threatened and we don’t want to go through the process of Impala Platinum where employees went on a wildcat strike over pay.
“We said to Sibanye if that is what it takes to preserve jobs, ensure safety of employees, carry on,” he said.
Sibanye shares rose by 3.87 percent on the JSE yesterday to close at R60.37.