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Sibanye locks out Amcu, NUM over salary increases

Members of NUM and Amcu have been locked out of the workplace at Sibanye Stillwater gold operations in South Africa. Photo: Molaole Montsho

Members of NUM and Amcu have been locked out of the workplace at Sibanye Stillwater gold operations in South Africa. Photo: Molaole Montsho

Published Mar 15, 2022

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Rustenburg - Members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) remain locked out at the Sibanye-Stillwater gold operation in South Africa.

In a statement, the company said the lockout had been lifted for members of Solidarity and Uasa because the two unions have accepted the company's final wage offer tabled on February 4 to the coalition of unions representing workers.

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"As a consequence, effective 14 March 2022, members of Solidarity and Uasa at the SA gold operations will no longer be locked out of the workplace.

"The remaining two unions forming the coalition, Amcu and the NUM have not yet accepted the final offer made by the company and their members continue to be locked out of the workplace until such time as they accept the offer," the company said.

CEO Neal Froneman said the company was pleased that Solidarity and Uasa have unconditionally accepted the offer.

"This is positive progress in the wage negotiation process, and we are hopeful that both Amcu and the NUM will soon follow suit to avoid further consequences for employees and other stakeholders from strike action that we know is not popular amongst the workforce," he said.

Sibanye informed unions on March 9 that it would implement a lock out at its gold operations in South Africa with effect from March 10.

The company said the lockout was in the interest of achieving a resolution to the proposed strike action and mitigating the negative impact of this on all stakeholders, including employees.

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Amcu and NUM issued strike notice to the company that they would go on strike from March 9.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said it supports the striking workers at Sibanye.

"The workers are demanding a salary increase of R1 000 per year for three years and are against Sibanye’s final offer of an increase of R700 each year for employees under categories 4 to 8. Miners, artisans, and officials were offered an increase of five percent in each of the three years against a worker’s demand of six percent," said Cosatu national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla.

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"The current economic trends have unleashed very harsh conditions, especially for the working class and the poor, on top of the already severe Covid-19 crisis. We call on Sibanye to accede to the fair and reasonable demands of workers. The mining sector has benefited from the reopening of the economy from the Covid-19 lockdown. The commodity price hikes have boosted the sector, and it’s only fair that some of that money should go to workers," he said.

He said healthy dividends had been paid to shareholders in the mining sector, and the CEOs of Sibanye and many other mining companies make more in one month than a mine worker would make in their entire career.

Sibanye said the offer it tabled on February 4 was fair, taking into consideration current inflationary living costs, considers the sustainability of the SA gold operations and the interests of all stakeholders for the long term.

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"The offer is final, wage increases that are higher than inflation are not sustainable and cannot be considered," the company said.

"As a reminder, the final offer is for three years and would mean that: Category 4 to 8 employees will receive an average increase of six percent in year one equivalent to an additional R800 per month; 5.7 percent in year two equivalent to a further R800 per month; and 5.4 percent in year three, again equivalent to an additional R800 per month. The R800 includes a R100 increase in the living out allowance each year."

Miners, artisans and officials were offered an increase of five percent in each year of the three-year agreement.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), a Cosatu affiliated union, has called on Sibanye Stillwater's shareholders to remove Neal Froneman as the company CEO with immediate effect if they want their mines to prosper in South Africa and for refusing to meet trade union leaders.

"He does go to countries such as the United States to meet with white trade union leaders. If Sibanye-Stillwater shareholders want their mining operations to prosper in South Africa, they should remove him as CEO.

"Froneman is the major destroyer of jobs in the mining industry in the country. He did buy the Cook operations in the Gold Sector in South Africa, and he immediately put them on care and maintenance, which resulted in huge job losses or retrenchments," said Joseph Montisetse, NUM president.

"Froneman's main objective is to punish workers and their families. He also bought Lonmin and Anglo Platinum operations in the platinum belt. He also put some of the operations on care and maintenance. He then retrenched a lot of workers." he said.

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