JSE- and NYSE-listed gold miner Sibanye-Stillwater has written an open letter to Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) president Joseph Mathunjwa amid an ongoing strike at the miner’s gold operations.
Sibanye especially condemned the “needless loss of three lives” that have allegedly occurred owing to protestor violence.
The strike follows after Sibanye reached a wage agreement with other unions, while AMCU has refused to sign the agreement, demanding an increase of R1 000 a year for category four to eight workers. Gold negotiations started in July.
AMCU represents about 43% of the 32 200 of Sibanye’s employees at its South African gold operations.
In the letter, Sibanye expressed its disappointment at the intimidation and violence that has marked the AMCU strike, which has allegedly led to the loss of three lives and several cases of assault.
Sibanye said it respected the right to peaceful protest, but also expected the union to respect the rights of employees who want to return to work.
ABOUT THE WAGES
Sibanye stated that the average basic wages for category four to eight workers at Sibanye had increased by more than 65% since the company 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 the National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity and Uasa is again well in excess of inflation, but takes the longer-term sustainability of the gold operations into consideration,” the miner said.
The offer which has been accepted by the other unions, is “final and fair”, the gold miner stated.
In terms of this offer, an entry-level employee will earn a guaranteed income of over R12 800 a month in the first year of the agreement, increasing to over R 14 900 a month, in year three.
“If we include variable pay, such as bonuses and other benefits, an entry-level employee will, on average, earn more than R14 400 a month in total, in year one and over R16 500 a month in year three. This is significantly higher than entry level wages in many critical sectors, such as nursing and teaching, for instance,” Sibanye explained.
Sibanye claimed that AMCU’s actions have been vexatious.
“The union and its members have been uncooperative from the start and have refused to adhere to accepted practices during a protected strike, such as establishing picketing rules during the strike notice period, which are necessary to protect the rights of the striking employees to protest, but also ensure that the safety of nonstriking employees are observed and no unlawful behaviour takes place,” it noted.
Sibanye urged AMCU’s leadership to consider the wellbeing of all stakeholders and the wellbeing of the industry, which has been shedding jobs over the last couple of years and to engage in good faith in the interest of a sustainable solution for the gold sector.