JOHANNESBURG – Sibanye-Stillwater said it had offered employees the option of applying for a cash advance of up to 50 percent of their salaries as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) strike at its gold operations enters its fourth week.
The JSE-listed mining company said on Friday that only employees in the bargaining council have been made the offer, including miners and artisans.
The employees could apply to receive the advance before 4pm today.
Company chief executive Neal Froneman said that the cash advance would help buffer against the financial strain on its employees ahead of the Christmas holidays and January back-to-school period.
“The safety and well-being of all Sibanye-Stillwater employees and their families is our first priority and management has been concerned about the timing of the strike and the financial hardships that employees who have been on strike, or not at work, will suffer due to the “no work, no pay” principle, which still applies,” Froneman said.
He added that the special cash advance could be repaid over five months from the end of February.
Earlier on Friday Amcu President Mathunjwa said this was not a strike, but a revolution.
“We are going to change things forever, so that they are never the same again,” he said.
Amcu has been leading 15 000 members in a strike at Sibanye’s Beatrix, Kloof and Driefontein operations since November 21.
The union members downed tools after snubbing a wage agreement that Sibanye-Stillwater signed with its rivals, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Uasa and trade union Solidarity.
The union remains on strike despite reports by Sibanye-Stillwater on Thursday that the strike was no longer protected.
Mathunjwa also accused the company of underhanded tactics, charging that it had given instructions to line managers to recruit for NUM, Solidarity and Uasa to attain a 50+1 percent to extend the agreement.
“But we are not going to allow such until such time the proper processes of the Labour Relations Act are followed,” he told SAFM on Thursday.
Mathunjwa also said that next year the union would embark on a second action at Sibanye’s platinum assets.
Sibanye Stillwater had said on Thursday that all employees were required to report for work on Saturday (December 15), arguing that the collective membership of the NUM, Uasa and Solidarity had increased to more than 50 percent of the employees at the affected operations during the course of the strike.
“Under these circumstances, the Labour Relations Act provides for the wage agreement to be extended to and bind all other employees to the collective agreement.
"In this instance, all employees who are members of Amcu, as well as those who are not members of any trade union, are bound by the collective agreement,” the company said on Thursday.