JOHANNESBURG  - Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on Wednesday accused Sibanye-Stillwater of trying to interdict its protected strike, saying the company had tried underhand tactics to discredit the labour action from the outset.

This as Sibanye on Tuesday filed an application at the Labour Court in Johannesburg for an interdict to prevent members of Amcu from continuing with their strike which began exactly four weeks ago.

Almost 15,000 workers affiliated to Amcu have been on a protected strike since 21 November at Sibanye's gold operations in South Africa. The strike has been marked by violence and intimidation and three people died and several were assaulted at the company's Beatrix, Kloof and Driefontein mines.

Sibanye currently employs approximately 32,200 people at its South African gold operations, with Amcu representing approximately 43 percent of employees in the bargaining unit. Amcu members embarked on a strike demanding R1,000 increases in monthly wages, every year for the next three years. 

In a court, Amcu accused Sibanye's senior management of recruiting members for rival unions, in a bid to diminish the union's bargaining power.

Sibanye argues that Amcu no longer represents the majority of workers at its gold operations, saying that the National Union of Mineworkers, UASA and Solidarity now had  a collective 49 percent representation in the bargaining unit. 

But Amcu's legal counsel, Larry Dave of LDA Incorporated Attorneys - a boutique law firm specialising in labour and commercial law - questioned the authenticity of the audit results presented by Sibanye and opposed the application based on the way the management of Sibanye and the auditing firm they employed conducted the membership audit. 

"We cannot accept the numbers submitted in this court because the management failed to consult with Amcu when they were auditing the memberships of the unions. Sibanye recruited their own auditing firm and did not give Amcu the opportunity of presenting their own membership numbers," he said.

"The information submitted to the auditing firm came from the management of Sibanye and Amcu was not consulted during that process. Therefore, we cannot accept these results as authentic or credible." 

Judgement has been reserved and the strike will continue.  

Amcu members have declined to return to work after the mining company's recent announcement that it had extended the wage deal it covertly signed with rival unions to all employees at its operations.

These three other unions in October signed a three-year wage agreement with Sibanye in respect of wages and conditions of service for the period July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021. 

The agreement allows for increases to the basic wage of category 4-8 surface and underground employees of R700 per month in the first year, R700 per month in the second year and R825 per month in the third year. 

Miners, artisans and officials will receive increases of 5.5 percent in year one and 5.5 percent or CPI, or whichever is the greater, in years two and three of the agreement.

- African News Agency (ANA)