Joseph Mathunjwa. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Joseph Mathunjwa. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The “shockingly low” offer Sibanye-Stillwater has put on the table in the current platinum wage negotiation is an attempt to provoke workers into a strike, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has said.

In a media briefing on current wage negations with three platinum mining companies, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said “steady, slow progress” is being made. 

The offers on the table for a three-year wage agreement varied from R1,000 in the first year, offered by Anglo American Platinum (Amplats); R800 from Impala Platinum; to R700 for Sibanye’s Rustenburg operations, which it has acquired from Amplats. An offer of R1,000 indicated there is light at the end of the tunnel, Mathunjwa said.

However, Sibanye has made a separate wage offer in relation to its recently acquired Lonmin operations, starting with a R300 increase in the first year, R350 in the second and R400 in the third.

In July, Amcu said its signature minimum basic wage demand of R12,500 for the lowest paid had been raised to R17,000. On Tuesday, Amcu adjusted its wage demand to an increase R1,500 a year, over a three-year agreement for category A and B workers and and 10% a year, over the three years for skilled workers.

“We are utterly disappointed with the offer at Sibanye-Stillwater/Lonmin,” said Mathunjwa. “It’s a slap in the face, it’s an insult to workers. We believe Sibanye is trying to provoke us into a strike.”

A below-inflation offer of 3.3% for skilled workers, is low, especially considering Lonmin has swung back into profit on the back of higher palladium and rhodium prices, despite platinum prices remaining low, he said.

Sibanye-Stillwater has previously said the starting demand of a minimum R17,000 is  unaffordable. At the release of Amplats strong annual results last month, CEO Chris Griffith warned that, although doing well, the company did not want to embed unsustainable increases into its cost base.

steynl@businesslive.co.za