Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa. PHOTO: Mathaeo Lonkokile

JOHANNESBURG - As the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) gears up for a strike at Sibanye-Stillwater at midnight Wednesday, the union's president Joseph Mathunjwa has slammed the mine's top executives for failing to pay workers what they demand when they are raking in millions of rand in executive pay.

"South Africa has one of the most unequal labour related markets. Sibanye-Stillwater executives earn an obscene amount of money compared to the workers who sacrifice their health and lives to work the mines," Mathunjwa said. 

"The top 10 executives earn R155 million a month together, compare that to the R7,000 earned by an entry level mine worker yet Sibanye-Stillwater claims they cannot afford a minimum wage of R12,500 for workers. Amcu will not allow this inequality to continue."

Amcu will from Wednesday midnight embark on a protected strike at all of Sibanye's operations in South Africa as workers demand a minimum wage increase of R12,500 with an increase of R1,000 for three years. 

Last week, Sibanye reached a three-year wage agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and UASA to increase salaries by R650 for the first year, R700 for the second year and R825 for the third year. Sibanye has said that Amcu's demands were "unaffordable". 

Sibanye currently employs approximately 32,200 people at its SA gold operations, with Amcu representing approximately 43 percent of employees in the bargaining unit. 

The miner's operations that will be affected by the strike include Driefontein, Kloof, Beatrix, Health Services, Property Services, South African Region and Corporate Office, Sibanye Protection Services, Sibanye Gold Academy, Sibanye Shared Services, Cooke 1, 2 and 3 (Rand Uranium) and Burnstone. 

Mathunjwa said the South African mining industry needed to relook at how minerals and commodities are priced in order to benefit the workers that risk life and limb to dig them from the belly of the earth. 

"Commodities are sold in dollars but the mine workers are paid in rands. The increase of the gold price and the weakening of the rand means the company profits. Production, the gold price and affordability are not the issue, the issue is sharing the wealth," Mathunjwa said.

 - African News Agency (ANA)