File photo: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko.

JOHANNESBURG - Almost five months later, the strike by members of  of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) at Sibanye-Stillwater's South African gold operations has ended, the miner confirmed on Wednesday.

"Sibanye-Stillwater is pleased to report that the five month strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) at its SA gold operations, has been resolved. Both parties have acknowledged that it is in their interest to rebase and develop a constructive relationship going forward," Sibanye said in a statement.

"The parties agree that in acknowledgement of the need for a constructive working relationship they will foster a safe and sustainable business that creates value for all stakeholders. The parties therefore agree to a facilitated ‘post-strike conflict’ relationship building program aimed at aligning leaders of both organised labour and management."

At least 15,000 Amcu members downed tools on November 21 at Sibanye's gold operations of Driefontein, Kloof, and Beatrix mines, demanding higher wages "after the mining company signed an Amcu-negotiated wage agreement with other three unions".

They were demanding R1,000 yearly wage increments for the next three years, while the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity, and the United Association of South Africa (Uasa) accepted an increase of R750 per year for the next three years for the period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2021.

As part of the agreement reached, Amcu has committed to signing the 2018 three-year wage agreement previously signed with the three other unions, affirm commitment to conclude a peace pact within 30 days, abide by the decisions of the court and that no further appeals will be instituted, and also developing a plan to ensure a safe start and ramp-up of production post-strike.

Despite implementing plans and optimizing production to limit losses during the strike, Sibanye cut down its expected gold production for 2018, putting it to approximately 34,600kg, or 1.1 million ounces, which was marginally below previous guidance of between 35,000kg and 36,000kg, or 1.13 million ounces and 1.16 million ounces, for the year. 

On its part, Sibanye has agreed to an ex gratia payment of R4,000 for all employees at its gold operations in the form of cash or a voucher, to alleviate hardship, and also made offer a cash advance of R5,000 upon request of the employees which will be repayable over a 12 month period. 

The miner also agreed to assist with debt consolidation and counselling, to waive its rights to reclaim costs incurred on behalf of employees during the strike, to provide transport for employees to return to work, and said any employees who were dismissed for strike related misconduct will be subject to normal disciplinary proceedings.

Sibanye said all employees will been notified to report for work as per a build-up schedule which will be communicated internally in due course. 

Neal Froneman, Sibanye chief executive, said they were pleased that the extended strike has ended, without undermining other stakeholders or compromising their rights. 

"We are encouraged by Amcu's commitment to peace and safety. We are hopeful that the relationship can now be rebuilt in a constructive manner, for the future benefit of all stakeholders," Froneman said. 

"It is with sadness that we reflect on the losses and hardship resulting from the strike, which include lives lost and serious injuries sustained. We are fully committed to restoring the gold operations to profitability, for the benefit of all stakeholders including employees, the local communities and those dependent on the regional economy."

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa was yet to comment on the deal with Sibanye and the union will issue a statement later.

African News agency (ANA)