Union vows to continue strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold operations
Amcu says it won’t return to work on Saturday, on which day the strike becomes unprotected, as its demands haven’t been met
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has vowed to continue with its strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold operations, despite the company’s call for workers to report to work on Saturday.
The union has rejected the claim by the company that National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), UASA and Solidarity have gained more than 50% membership at their gold operations.
“It is not possible that the NUM could have organised workers, processed their stop orders, conducted a verification exercise and concluded a new recognition agreement with majority status in just over a week,” Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said on Friday.
Mathunjwa accused the company of using underhanded tactics.
“The employer continued in this acrimonious trail to further instruct its management to recruit workers for the NUM with a view of achieving a falsified majority status for their sweetheart union,” said Mathunjwa.
He urged members to remain calm and not to report to work on Saturday, as the strike is still protected until their demands have been met by Sibanye.
Sibanye spokesperson James Wellsted said on Friday that Amcu’s comments are the result of a rivalry with NUM and “it has been affecting many people”.
In a bid to end a crippling strike by some of it employees, on Thursday the company extended a wage agreement to all its employees in the gold sector. The company said NUM, UASA and Solidarity recruited more members, which tilted the bargaining power in favour of the unions that agreed a wage increase deal with the company on November 15.
The collective of the NUM, Solidarity and UASA have gained members, thereby making up the majority of the unionised workforce at Sibanye’s gold operations, enabling the wage agreement to be extended to all employees, said Sibanye.
Before this the unions spoke for 49% of workers at Sibanye’s gold operations, while Amcu represented 43%.
The extension of the agreement to cover all workers, including those on strike, is done in terms of the Labour Relations Act of 1995, which stipulates that the collective agreement binds all employees once the majority agrees to a deal.
Sibanye gave workers until Saturday to report for work as the strike then becomes unprotected. “All employees who are members of Amcu as well as those who are not members of any trade union are bound by the collective agreement,” said Sibanye.
Amcu members have been on strike at the Kloof, Driefontein (both situated in Gauteng) and Beatrix (Free State) operations since November 21. The union is demanding a minimum wage of R12,500 for entry level employees.
So far, three people have died, and several others have been injured after violent clashes during the strike. Mathunjwa said the company had set rival unions against each other and that security personnel discriminated against Amcu members.