Johannesburg 19 February 2019 , AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa held a press briefing to announce a secondary strike by union members in support of the prolonged stay away at Sibanye Stillwater which has been going on since November 21 2018 in Sandton Johannesburg.Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency(ANA).

JOHANNESBURG – Trade union UASA on Wednesday urged other unions to work towards saving jobs at Sibanye-Stillwater, saying that calls for disinvestment were "irresponsible" and would do more harm than good.

This comes after the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on Tuesday called for disinvestment from Sibanye and threatened a secondary strike at platinum miners in solidarity with about 15,000 members at Sibanye gold mines who have been on strike since November 2018.

Sibanye announced last week that it would begin consultation on the section 189 process that could result in the retrenchments of more than 6,600 workers, including contractors, at its gold operations in Beatrix and Driefontein in South Africa due to losses during the past financial year.

Stanford Mazhindu, the spokesperson of UASA, said the call for a strike that threatens to shut down the mining industry would be harmful after assurances to investors by President Cyril Ramaphosa and mineral resources Gwede Mantashe that mining in South Africa was still lucrative.

Mazhindu said as a trade union, it is their duty to discuss with management ways in which jobs can be saved by finding other ways to cut costs.

"With South Africa’s unemployment sitting at a staggering 27 percent, it does not take much to realize we need to save as many jobs as we can," Mazhindu said. 

"Calling for another strike when the first strike failed to yield the desired results does leave one to wonder: Does Amcu still represent the voice of its members or has their personal agenda with Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman blinded them? Our economy simply cannot afford any more unemployed people."

At least 15,000 workers affiliated to Amcu downed tools on 22 November 2018 at Sibanye after refusing a three-year wage agreement signed by the mine and three other unions including UASA. Amcu members are demanding an R1,000 annual wage hike over three years.  

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said that his union would close down the entire South African mining industry once they embarked on this strike. Sibanye is expected to report an attributable loss of R1 billion (U.S.$77 million) for the year ended 31 December 2018.

African News Agency (ANA)