JOHANNESBURG - Gold and platinum producer Sibanye-Stillwater has concluded a three-year wage agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and UASA, allowing for increases to the basic wage of Category 4-8 surface and underground employees of R700 per month in the first and second years, and R825 per month in the third year. 

The agreement covers wages and basic conditions of employment for the period 1 July 2018  to 30 June 2021. 

Sibanye said miners, artisans and officials will receive increases of 5.5 percent in year one and 5.5 percent, or CPI in years two and three of the agreement.

Neal Froneman, chief executive of Sibanye, said they were pleased to have reached this agreement with the workers after protracted talks in the gold mining sector.

"We are pleased to have reached a wage agreement with the NUM, UASA and Solidarity, which we believe is fair, but takes into consideration the longer term sustainability of the gold operations," Froneman said.

"It is only through ensuring sustainable and economically viable operations, that the mining industry can continue to support and create value for all of its stakeholders."

In addition to the basic wage, the parties agreed to an increase in the current living-out allowance by R50 to a maximum of R2,150 per month from 1 September 2018. 

Sibanye said it will increase the living-out allowance by R75 to a maximum of R2,225 per month on 1 September 2019 and by R100 to a maximum of R2,325 per month in the year that follows.

Sibanye also agreed to increase incrementally the current minimum medical incapacity benefit of R55,000 to R60,000 over the three-year period by increasing the benefit by R1,500 on 1 July 2018; R 1,500 in July next year; and R2,000 in July 2020.

The parties agreed that the company needs to introduce a cost-effective uniform approach to healthcare across all its gold operations. This requires a review of the company’s current approach of providing healthcare to category 4-8 employees and the subsidised benefits offered to miners, artisans and officials.

Sibanye said it will establish a task team to look at the various medical aid schemes with a view to shifting employees to a new medical aid dispensation. The task team will complete its work within six months and the new system will be implemented no later than January 2020.

Sibanye-Stillwater currently employs 32,231 employees at its South African gold operations in the bargaining unit. 

- African News Agency (ANA)