The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on Friday accused gold miner Sibanye-Stillwater of “bragging about its profits” amid a workers’ strike for higher wages and accused chief executive Neal Froneman of exploitation and cutting corners on safety.
Amcu members at Sibanye downed tools last November demanding a R1,000 annual wage increase for the next three years, and have clashed with colleagues from rival National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) which, alongside other unions, signed a deal with Sibanye and whose members are at work.
On Thursday, Sibanye said the 2018 gold production at its South African operations was expected to be just marginallly below guidance, due in part to the successful implementation of measures to mitigate the impact and limit losses of the strike.
The miner has optimised production through the active deployment of employees reporting for work to specific production areas and minimising overhead costs by shutting down services such as ventilation, refrigeration, and others, to areas which are not operational.
This has angered Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa, who said Sibanye was disingenuous in pleading poverty when workers demanded higher wages but quick to inform investors that it was not feeling the financial pinch of the strike.
Mathunjwa said Froneman had surrounded himself with ex-bosses of NUM now prominent officials in government by appointing them in his executive advisory board, and that they advised him daily on how to avoid paying workers fairly.
“We knew all along that Sibanye-Stillwater’s claims of poverty were disingenuous lies. They are making good money, and they can truly afford to pay their workers a living wage. But no, rather Sibanye-Stillwater maintains the apartheid salary structure and injustice to blacks,” Mathunjwa said.
“Neal Froneman is … is cutting corners where he can – both on safety measures and on paying living wages to his employees. He has exploited workers to make maximum profit.”
Mathunjwa, who held a mass meeting with Amcu members at Kloof mine on Wednesday, reiterated that the strike would continue until workers’ demands were met.
He said they would escalate the stand-off to a secondary strike in the platinum sector if necessary.
– African News Agency (ANA)