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Sibanye-Stillwater, Amcu seal wage deal

Wage deal ends a five-month strike that has hit gold production and earnings.

A South African union agreed to a wage settlement with Sibanye-Stillwater on Wednesday, ending a five-month strike that has cost the precious metals miner more than $100 million in lost revenue.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) agreed to take a 5.5% pay rise for the first year and 5.5% or the consumer inflation rate, whichever is the greater, in years two and three, Sibanye said in a statement

Sibanye, which also operates platinum mines at home and in the United States, suffered R1.6 billion in revenue losses and other costs and lost 110,000 tonnes of gold output due to the strike, Chief Executive Neal Froneman said shortly after signing the wage deal. “It’s cost a lot of money,” Froneman told reporters at the company’s headquarters in Westonaria, South Africa.

The deal also included a ‘Return To Work Agreement”, under which Sibanye agreed, among other things, to an ex gratia payment of R4 000 for all employees at its gold operations and a R5 000 cash advance repayable over a 12 month period to those that need it.

Amcu, known for its uncompromising stance after leading a bruising five-month strike in 2014 in the platinum sector, agreed to take the deal signed with three other unions in November following an independent study that found that the union represented less than 50% of Sibanye’s staff.

Under South Africa’s labour laws, a wage settlement between an employer and the biggest unions can be extended to smaller unions. Had Amcu decided to continue with the strike, Sibanye had threatened to take it to court to declare the industrial action illegal.

“I think the strike … (is) a win-win situation,” Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa said.

He and Froneman agreed the deal between the two formed a constructive basis for the future, where court action was the last resort, including in ongoing restructuring talks and wage negotiations at Sibanye’s platinum operations.

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