A planned strike by members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was suspended for the time being to see if the Commission on Mediation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) would intervene. will save the day.
This comes after Sibanye-Stillwater employees rejected an offer of an increase of R700 per year for three years and demanded an increase of R1,000 for the same period.
NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said that despite the workers’ vote in favor of the strike, the strike has been suspended.
“We were now in a position to issue a 48-hour warning to call for a strike. But we’re waiting.”
Mammburu said a late meeting Thursday afternoon on the way forward called a halt to the strike when the CCMA intervened and requested a meeting with unions and stakeholders on Monday before NUM made its final decision whether or not to to strike.
He said: “79% of NUM members voted in favor of the strike, in the Beatrix mines only 18% voted in favor and 31% of the United Association of SA voted against the strike”. Mammburu said Sibanye Gold operations include the Driefontein, Kloof, Cook and Beatrix mines.
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Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister of employment and labor Dr. Michael Cardo said the impending strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold operations would hurt the economy at a time of great economic fragility, both nationally and internationally.
“South Africa cannot afford another round of disruptions to its economy after the devastating effect of Covid and the lockdowns. We are staring into the abyss.”
Cardo said the voting procedure in this case revealed continuing shortcomings in our industrial relations regime.
“The fact that Amcu’s members voted by show of hands and not by secret ballot is very problematic.”
Wits University economist Lumkile Mondi said a strike would be unfortunate given rising commodity prices and the potential for job creation.
“The timing is unfortunate and unions must also be accountable for their contribution to unemployment in an economy that calls on those in the labor market to help increase productivity and create jobs for an inclusive society,” he said.
Economist Dawie Roodt said he was not surprised that the workers wanted to go on strike.
“It’s about their pay and I understand that the mines are doing exceptionally well right now, so I understand they want to make more money because the mines made more money.”
He said workers should be careful not to strike.
“We should make South Africa more attractive, now was the opportunity with the high mineral prices in the mining sector to attract international investors.”
Roodt added that now was the time to let the workers work together and create more jobs.
“If they continue to strike and disrupt mining, it will undermine South Africa. The mining industry was one of the few that did well at this stage, the rest of the economy was doomed to fail,” he added.
Roodt warned workers not to blow a good chance.