The Sibanye-Stillwater's Beatrix gold mine. Picture: Timothy Bernard/ANA

JOHANNESBURG - Sibanye-Stillwater said on Tuesday that a number of employees had been left injured, with one in a critical condition, following violent actions by groups of striking members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) close to its Beatrix operations in the Free State province.

"Sibanye-Stillwater sadly advises that violent actions by groups of striking Amcu members close to its Beatrix operations in the Free State province have continued," Sibanye said.

"In the early hours of the morning on 11 December 2018, various altercations between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and large groups of Amcu members resulted in a number of employees being injured. Several employees are receiving medical treatment, with one sadly in a critical condition."

Sibanye said the incidents took place outside of demarcated picketing areas and in clear contravention of the interdict obtained by the company from the Labour Court, as well as the picketing rules which were established by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) last month. 

Three weeks ago about 15,000 workers affiliated to Amcu embarked on a strike at Sibanye's gold operations in South Africa after rejecting a three-year wage agreement acceded to by three rival unions. 

They are demanding a R1,000 annual increment for three years while other three unions accepted R700 in the first two years, and R825 in the third year.

But Sibanye says the current wage agreement reached with the National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity and UASA is well in excess of inflation, taking the total average monthly package for an entry level employee to over R16,500 per month in year three, but still taking the longer term sustainability of the gold operations into consideration.

Sibanye said the situation at the Beatrix operations in particular, remained tense, with striking workers continuing to intimidate non-striking workers, causing damage to company property and restricting access to the company's operating mine sites. 

Intimidation of workers who wanted to report for duty has been rife at Beatrix, Kloof and Driefontein mines, and violence has resulted in the death of three workers.

"Sibanye-Stillwater respects the right of Amcu members to strike, and upholds the right of employees who wish to work to do so. By their unlawful actions, striking employees are preventing other employees from exercising their right to work, thereby inflicting financial hardship on employees who do not wish to strike," it said.

"Management urges Amcu leadership to take responsibility for their members' behaviour and safety by ensuring that the picketing rules are adhered to." 

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa was expected to address the picketing members at Driefontein and Kloof mines on Tuesday afternoon.

African News Agency (ANA)