Wage protest looms at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold operation

Unions intend to strike from the evening shift on on Wednesday.
Image: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg

Protest action looms against precious metal producer Sibanye-Stillwater over rejected wage offers.

Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have delivered a notice of intent to embark on a protected strike action at the group’s local gold operation.

According to Sibanye’s statement, the protest action will take place from the evening shift on March 9, 2022.

The protest action comes a month after negotiations between the unions and Sibanye’s management failed over the latter’s offer of a R700 wage increase in each of the following three years (2022 to 2024).

Read: Sibanye-Stillwater approves inflation-linked wage agreements at its US mine
Listen/read: Sibanye mineworkers to strike until union demands are met

Members are instead demanding R1 000 wage increases for the same period and have since voted to strike until their demands are met.

“It is very disappointing that the two unions have chosen this course of action despite our ongoing engagement in an attempt to reach agreement on wages since June 2021,” Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman said.

“The offer we made on February 4, 2022, is fair, taking into consideration current inflationary living costs, considers the sustainability of the SA gold operations and the interests of all stakeholders for the long term.

“The offer is final; wage increases that are higher than inflation are not sustainable and cannot be considered,” Froneman emphasised.

He warns that members should carefully consider the consequences of strike action as it would not only jeopardise the sustainability of the gold operation but also threaten the employment and livelihoods of those who depend on it.

According to the group, the final offer is for three years and would mean that:

  • Category 4 – eight employees will receive an average increase of 6% in year one, equivalent to an additional R800 per month; 5.7% in year two, equivalent to a further R800 per month; and 5.4% in year three, again equivalent to an additional R800 per month. The R800 includes a R100 increase in the living out allowance each year.
  • In rand terms, these inflation-linked increases will result in wages for entry-level Category 4 underground production increasing by around R34 397 over the three-year period to an average total guaranteed income of approximately R245 110 per annum.
  • Miners, artisans and officials will receive an increase of 5% in years one, two and three.

Sibanye-Stillwater’s share price traded more than 3.5% weaker on the news on Tuesday, at around R71.34 in afternoon trade.

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