Cape Town - The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has claimed its first victory over the National Union of Mineworkers on Sunday as its members voted unanimously in favour of a new wage offer by Sibanye Gold [JSE:SGL].
At a mass meeting in Driefontein, Amcu held a symbolic funeral for NUM, stating that the reopening of wage negotiations was the final nail in their rival's coffin.
Sibanye Gold's new offer with Amcu is: year 1 = R700; year 2 = R725; year 3 = R800, the union tweeted on Sunday. This is R25 more for the first two years and R75 more for the third year than the wage agreement the company signed last year with three other unions at the gold sector bargaining council.
The NUM signed an agreement with Sibanye Gold in 2015 for R675 in year 1, R700 in year 2 and R725 in year 3.
The agreement follows a threat by Amcu last week that it would shut down the mine over unmet wage demands.
The threat followed a court ruling prohibiting the union to protest the three-year wage agreement that NUM, Solidarity and the United Association of SA signed with Sibanye Gold.
Last Thursday, the NUM reacted with anger over Sibanye Gold's revised offer to "its baby Amcu" of R25 on top of the gold sector wage agreement signed in 2015.
"The National Union of Mineworkers is extremely angry and disturbed that Sibanye Gold made an offer to their baby Amcu - R25 on top of the Gold Sector wage agreement that was signed in 2015. This is being done outside the collective bargaining forum at the Chamber of Mines," it said in a statement posted on its website on 7 April.
The union appealed to Sibanye Gold to make the R25 offer at the Chamber of Mines, "where collective bargaining processes always take place".
The NUM said the current offer will thus be an amendment to the 2015 Gold Sector wage agreement signed by the NUM, Uasa and Solidarity at the Chamber of Mines in October last year. Amcu had refused to sign that agreement.
Trade union Soliarity's General Secretary Gideon du Plessis, said in a statement on Friday there was every indication that the strike would be accompanied by severe violence and intimidation. “We are extremely grateful that a bloody strike was averted. Moreover, a strike would have severely compromised the gold sector’s slow recovery after much economic and commodity insecurity, and the job security and physical safety of workers would have been jeopardised once again.”
Du Plessis, however, expressed his disappointment with Sibanye Gold. “Sibanye made concessions to Amcu because of the impending strike despite the fact that since October last year until as recently as Thursday they had promised that they would not be prepared to make any concessions to Amcu.
“Although we are grateful for every extra cent in the pockets of mineworkers, it is most regrettable that the employer, Sibanye Gold, succumbed to pressure and made concessions to Amcu outside collective bargaining structures while Amcu would not sign the original agreement,” Du Plessis said.
He said Amcu will soon start to negotiate with Sibanye in the platinum sector, and Sibanye has missed out on an opportunity to ensure that these negotiations, as well as future ones, take place within a framework that commits all parties to peace and stability.
Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa has claimed the reopening of wage talks with Sibanye Gold as the union's first victory over NUM as the latter was "adamant that it would never be reopened".
Sibanye Gold did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.
— Amcu (@_AMCU) April 10, 2016