JOHANNESBURG – The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has retaliated against Sibanye-Stillwater, saying that the miner had resorted to further "underhanded tactics" in an effort to discredit the legal and protected status of its strike in the gold sector.
This is after Sibanye said on Thursday the strike by workers affiliated to AMCU was no longer protected as employees were bound by the collective bargaining unit agreement and were expected to report to work this weekend as the miner extended the recently signed wage agreement to all its employees.
AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa said Sibanye's efforts and its management was "unscrupulous" in extending the wage agreement they had "covertly signed" with other unions.
"AMCU has been reliably informed that Sibanye senior management has undergone the process of recruiting members for rival unions - NUM, Solidarity and UASA. AMCU also understands that HR managers at Sibanye have approached and enticed employees who currently do not belong to any union during working hours," Mathunjwa said.
"Since AMCU officially declared the strike on 21 November 2018 at Sibanye operations in Kloof and Driefontien, both in the Carltonville area, and Beatrix in the Free State, Sibanye has undergone to sponsor a violent-enthused campaign against AMCU strike in an endeavour to interdict the protected strike."
Mathunjwa said AMCU will pursue all and available legal avenues to protect the constitutional right of its members and the working class to go on strike. An angry Mathunjwa has called a media briefing for Friday to provide further insight on the matter.
About 15,000 AMCU members went on strike three weeks ago after the union reached deadlock with Sibanye. They are demanding R1 000 annual wage increases for each of the three years of the agreement. Their strike has been characterised by intimidation and violence, particularly at the Beatrix, Kloof and Driefontein mines, resulting in the death of four workers.
The strike was triggered after Sibanye signed a three-year deal with NUM, UASA and Solidarity regarding wages and conditions of service for the period July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021.
The agreement allows for increases to the basic wage of category 4-8 surface and underground employees of R700 per month in the first year, R700 per month in the second year and R825 per month in the third year.
Miners, artisans and officials will receive increases of 5.5% in year one and 5.5% or the consumer inflation rate, whichever is the greater, in years two and three.
Sibanye currently employs approximately 32,200 people at its SA gold operations, with AMCU representing approximately 43% of employees in the bargaining unit.
The miner said during the course of the strike, the collective membership of NUM, UASA and Solidarity had increased to over 50% and that under the Labour Relations Act this allowed for the wage agreement to be extended to and bind all other employees.
Sibanye said all AMCU members and other workers not affiliated to any trade union could therefore no longer remain on strike and must come back to work on Saturday, adding that management was applying its mind on how to ameliorate hardship on workers since the "no work, no pay" principle applied during the strike.