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Workers pour cold water over gold miner Sibanye’s latest wage offer

‘They have taken R50 from the housing allowance, and workers have rejected that with the contempt it deserves’. Mike Hutchings, Reuters.

‘They have taken R50 from the housing allowance, and workers have rejected that with the contempt it deserves’. Mike Hutchings, Reuters.

Published Apr 25, 2022

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THE FACE-OFF between gold miner Sibanye Stillwater and its workers goes down to the wire tomorrow as workers reject the company's latest offer on the table made on Friday which entails an R850 wage increase with a R50 living out allowance over a three year period.

Organised labour, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction (AMCU) said over the weekend the offer had been rejected by workers and would be put to the litmus test today at a joint mass meeting at the Beatrix Mine in Welkom, prior to an anticipated meeting with the company tomorrow.

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“They have taken R50 from the housing allowance, and workers have rejected that with the contempt it deserves,” AMCU secretary-general Jeff Mphahlele said.

This was echoed by NUM secretary-general William Mabapa who also confirmed that workers were squaring up for a meeting on Tuesday in which the company would be informed of their position.

Sibanye on Friday said it was tabling a final settlement offer in which employees will receive an increase of R850 in year one, R850 in year two and R850 in year three, which includes a R50 increase in the Living Out Allowance each year.

It offered miners, artisans and officials an increase of 5 percent over the three years.

Workers are demanding a R1000 wages increase or a 6 percent salary increase.

Sibanye said category 4 – 8 employees will receive an increase of R850 in year one, R850 in year two and R850 in year three which includes a R50 increase in the Living Out Allowance each year.

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The company said the offer amounts to a 7.8 percent increase to the basic wage in year one, 7.2 percent in year two and 6.8 percent in year three for entry-level Category 4 employees.

In rand terms, this offer would mean that over the next three years, the average monthly guaranteed income including the average bonus for Category 4 underground production employees would increase by R1 045 each year from R17 512 to R20 648 by 1 July 2023.

“The annual guaranteed income for this group of employees will therefore increase by R37 628 from R210 144 to R247 772 per year by 1 July 2023,“ the company said.

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“The final settlement offer will increase Sibanye-Stillwater’s wage bill at its gold operations by R1.67 billion by 1 July 2023 and excludes concessions made in respect of non-wage demands. If accepted, the offer will be extended to all employees in the bargaining unit irrespective of union affiliation,” the company said.

Sibanye’s Richard Cox said the strike which has gone on for 45 days by Friday had cost workers about R990 million, while Government has lost approximately R113m in PAYE income tax and salary related levies, and significantly more in lost taxes and mining royalties.

“We recognise the extended strike and suspension of operations is a huge financial burden to carry for striking employees, many of whom are the primary breadwinners for their families, especially ahead of the Easter weekend when families come together. For this reason, we assisted employees during this time by paying a final further once-off back-pay for the period July 2021 to March 2022 to all employees. The amount was calculated on the offer tabled on 4 February 2022 which included a R700 increase on the standard rate of pay for Category 4 – 8 employees and a 5 percent increase for miners, and took into account of the previous back-pay paid to employees in December last year. All employees received the money in their bank accounts on 15 April,” Cox said

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He said this was a once-off payment and the company will not be implementing further back-pay until a wage agreement has been concluded.

Any back-pay that may result from the final wage agreement will be reduced by the amount of back-pay paid in December 2021 and April 2022.

“Our offer is fair, takes into account inflationary living costs, considers the sustainability of the SA gold operations and is in the interests of all stakeholders. We urge employees to carefully consider the offer we have made and to ensure that their voices are heard,” Cox said.

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