Pretoria - Striking mineworkers camping out at the Union Buildings have refused a plea by their unions’ representatives to convene tomorrow at Driefontein for a feedback on wage increase negotiations with Sibanye-Stillwater gold mine management.
Union leaders from both the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) met with workers following another round of talks facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
According to reports, the unions rejected the CCMA wage increase proposal of R700 a month in the first year, including an ex gratia R3 000 once-off payment. On the other hand, the mine management concurred with the proposal and had since upped the R700 to R800.
Union representatives were yesterday tight-lipped about the latest offer, but told the workers that they won’t sell them out.
They couldn’t budge to the workers’ call for the offer to be disclosed to those gathering at the Union Buildings.
Union leaders initially told workers that they preferred to make an announcement of the negotiations outcome “at home” in Driefontein, where the mine was located.
But, workers who have been staging a sit-in at the Union Buildings since May 19, flatly refused the proposal to leave until they got news that the employers had acceded their demand of a R1 000 increase.
In defusing tension among the workers, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said it was better for colleagues on strike at Driefontein to come over to the Union Buildings tomorrow.
He said he wouldn’t like to see disunity be sown among the workers.
“I think that the venue should be changed from Driefontein to here tomorrow. Unity is costly. We have had a long journey so far and we would like our unity to be threatened by differences among us with other workers wanting to go and others remaining behind. That is going to damage our unity forever,” Mathunjwa said.
He said buses would be dispatched to fetch those at Driefontein to bring them to the Union Buildings, where workers have been demanding to be addressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Lucky Motlhakola, co-ordinator of Amcu, told the Pretoria News that the union was unable to tell when the workers would disperse.
“Remember we don’t take decisions as leaders. The decisions are taken by the members of the unions. They are the owners of the organisation. We therefore will get the direction once we have addressed the workers and they will tell us what to do. It was not the decision of the union in the first place for workers to be here. They have taken the decision on their own that they would like to see the President,” Matlhakola said.
Regarding the offer presented by the employer, he said: “At the moment we can not divulge any information yet until we have addressed the workers. The workers must have privilege to this information whether it is good or bad. At the moment I can not say whether there was an offer or no offer.”
Workers have been on the protracted wage strike for the past four months.