Workers, Sibanye at loggerheads over R3 000 ‘hardship allowance’

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The mining industry is already reeling from a strike. Photo: Tebogo Letsie/City Press
The mining industry is already reeling from a strike. Photo: Tebogo Letsie/City Press


Workers at Sibanye-Stillwater are yet to return to work after calling off their prolonged strike that started in March. This as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), and the company are back at loggerheads over a R3 000 once-off hardship allowance.

Unions have said the refusal by Sibanye-Stillwater to extend the payment to all workers is a deal-breaker.

NUM national spokesperson Livhuwani Mamburu said:

Our members who are artisans asked why [they] were on strike if they are not going to get this money. They said it would have been better if they never went on strike.

The company has alleged that union bosses agreed to a Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) proposal that excluded artisans, miners and officials from receiving the R3 000 allowance and are now trying to sneak it in through the back door.

Speaking on behalf of Sibanye-Stillwater, James Wellsted said: “The proposal from the CCMA said that the R3 000 hardship allowance was only for [job] categories 4 to 8. The unions realised that they made a mistake when members who are miners and artisans suddenly caused an uproar and they’ve now tried to change the terms of the proposal that they agreed on last week.”

Wellsted said:

Why would we change it now? We’ve been negotiating since June last year. There’s a number of other things that had been agreed on at the last minute this week, [but] the leadership of Amcu and NUM have suddenly come in and overruled agreements that were made by their negotiating teams. We are basically restarting the negotiations.

Workers belonging to Amcu and NUM accepted management’s offer of a three-year agreement last week to end the strike that took nearly three months. The agreement comprises of a R1 000 increase in the first year for surface and underground workers in categories 4 to 8, plus a R3 000 once-off hardship allowance, which would consist of R1 200 paid to workers and R1 800 which Sibanye-Stillwater would use to service the debt owed by employees to the company. Artisans, miners and officials would get a 5% increment.

In the second year, workers in categories 4 to 8 would get a R900 increase while artisans, miners and officials would receive a 5.5% increase. And in the final year, categories 4 to 8 would get a R750 increase while artisans, miners and officials would receive a 5% increase.

Workers were demanding a R1 000 annual increase over three years plus a R200 living allowance increase.

Wellsted said operations would resume once the unions have signed.

Meanwhile, the unions and the company met on Friday, mediated by the CCMA, to try and resolve the standoff.


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