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Strike begins at Sibanye-Stillwater gold mines

The Sibanye-Stillwater strike by the mining unions is back on track after it was halted before the Reconciliation, Mediation and Arbitration Commission to try to help the company and workers find common ground.

Sibanye-Stillwater received a message Tuesday from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the National Union of Miners (NUM), that the unions planned to launch a protected strike action from the evening shift on Wednesday.

Sibanye-Stillwater chief executive Neal Froneman said it was very disappointing that the two unions had chosen this course of action despite an ongoing commitment to agree wages since June last year.

“The offer we made on February 4, 2022 is reasonable, taking into account the current inflationary cost of living, given the sustainability of the SA gold business and the long-term interests of all stakeholders. The offer is final: wage increases above inflation are unsustainable and cannot be considered,” he said.

Froneman said the final three-year offer included an increase of R800, including an increase of R100 for living expenses per year.

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“There are no winners in a strike. Not only would strike action undermine the employment and livelihoods of many people who depend on SA gold operations, but workers will gain little or nothing from it,” he said.

NUM and Amcu will strike from tonight at Sibanye-Stillwater operations in the Free State and Gauteng.

“NUM is committed to continuing its demand for an increase of R100 for surface, underground miners and 6% for artisans, miners and civil servants,” said NUM’s national spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu.

The shadow minister of labor of the Democratic Alliance, Dr. Michael Cardo, said the strike is very regrettable.

“There is the idea that wage increases above inflation should be the norm. “It’s a deeply rooted idea in the public sector,” he said.

“The strike will jeopardize the sustainability of the Sibanye-Stillwater gold operation and endanger the jobs and livelihoods of everyone who depends on it.”

Economist Dawie Roodt said the miners are putting 1% more on their current annual package.

“If they go on strike for three days and they get their raise, they even break. Striking for longer than that is stupid, because even with the salary increase you still lose out because of the days that are lost due to no work and no pay.”

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