Sibanye-Stillwater confirmed on Tuesday it had received notice from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) of its intention to embark on a secondary, protected strike at the producer’s South African platinum operations, but said it would seek advice about the legality.
Amcu on Monday gave notice to down tools at operations around Rustenburg, starting from morning shift on Tuesday next week, in support of a current strike at Sibanye’s gold mines on the West Rand and the Free State.
About 15,000 Amcu members have been on a job boycott at the Kloof, Beatrix, and Driefontein mines since November, rejecting a three-year wage agreement signed by three rival unions and demanding a R1,000 annual pay increase for the next three years.
Section 66 of the Labour Relations Act allows union members to embark on protected strike action “in support of a strike by other employees against their employer” by giving seven days’ notice.
But the law only allows secondary strikes within constrained parameters. Such strikes are not automatically deemed lawful or reasonable.
Sibanye chief executive Neal Froneman said while not surprising, the notice for a secondary strike was disappointing as all stakeholders would be negatively affected, more so those employees who would be exposed to the no work, no pay principle.
“Our South African PGM operations have been preparing for this outcome and as such have strike contingency plans in place to minimize the possible impact of a strike and our US PGM operations with their high exposure to a rampant palladium price continue to provide welcome diversification and support through the strike,” Froneman said.
“We reiterate that the wage agreement we reached with the unions representing the majority of our employees employed at our gold operations is fair and final and will not be amended by Amcu’s demands or threats.”
Sibanye currently employs about 17,400 people at the platinum group metals operations. Amcu represents around 56% of the employees at the Kroondal operations and 71% in Rustenburg.
Last week, Sibanye said it had successfully implemented plans to limit losses during the ongoing strike action and that group liquidity remained sound, offset by its platinum business which benefited from higher rand platinum group metals basket prices.
– African News Agency (ANA)