Amcu's Christmas strike at Sibanye 'will hurt workers who won't be paid'

Amcu is planning to go on strike over wages.
Amcu is planning to go on strike over wages.
Image: FILE

Sibanye-Stillwater on Monday confirmed it had received a strike notice from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

Amcu said at the weekend it was planning strike action for higher wages.

A three-year wage agreement was struck last week between Sibanye-Stillwater and the other representative unions at its operations - the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM)‚ Solidarity and Uasa.

Sibanye-Stillwater employs about 32‚200 people at its South African gold operations‚ with Amcu representing about 43% of employees in the bargaining unit.

The company said it had made ongoing attempts to reach a fair and reasonable outcome during the negotiations with unions.

"The average basic wages for category 4-8 employees have increased by more than 65% since Sibanye-Stillwater was unbundled from Gold Fields in 2013. This is significantly above inflation and represents a very real improvement in the standard of living of our employees.

"The current wage agreement reached with NUM‚ Solidarity and Uasa is again well in excess of inflation‚ but takes the longer-term sustainability of the gold operations into consideration‚" it stated.

The deal with other unions provided for increases to the basic wage of category 4-8 surface and underground employees of R700 in year one‚ R700 in year two and R825 in year three. Miners‚ artisans and officials will receive increases of 5.5% in year one and 5.5% or CPI (whichever is the greater) in years two and three of the agreement.

In addition to the basic wage‚ the current living-out allowance is being increased by R50 to a maximum of R2‚150 per month this year‚ by R75 to a maximum of R2‚225 per month on September 1‚ 2019 and by R100 to a maximum of R2‚325 per month in the year that follows.

Sibanye-Stillwater has also agreed to increase incrementally the current minimum medical incapacity benefit of R55‚000 to R60‚000 over the three-year period by increasing the benefit by R1‚500 on July 1 2018; R1‚500 on July 1 2019; and R2‚000 on July 1 2020.

On Monday‚ Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman‚ commenting on notification from Amcu‚ said the planned strike was disappointing. The company had engaged with Amcu representatives since June‚ he added.

"The agreement we reached with the other unions is fair and final and considers the current challenges facing our gold operations‚" said Froneman.

"The fact that Amcu's national leadership is willing to take its members out on strike ahead of the December holiday period is very unfortunate and irresponsible‚ given the financial consequences a strike will have on our employees and their families.

"The offer accepted by the other unions is being implemented across the gold operations‚ and all employees‚ including Amcu members‚ will benefit from the increase.

"Employees who decide to go on strike will not receive wages‚ however‚ and we will not be increasing our offer‚ so the decision by the Amcu leadership to call a strike when they are aware of the hardship it will cause their members over the festive season is perplexing and of grave concern."

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