Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union president Joseph Mathunjwa told Fin24 that his union had been alone in fighting the acquisition of Lonmin by Sibanye-Stillwater [JSE:SGL], which he blames for the more than 5 000 jobs to be lost at mining operations.
On Wednesday, Sibanye-Stillwater released a statement through the JSE Stock Exchange News Service (SENS) where the company acknowledged that 5 270 jobs were at risk after Sibanye acquired Lonmin and found that some of its operations could not continue as a going concern.
Retrenchment consultations had started at the Marikana mine, the statement said.
Mathunjwa said AMCU had opposed the transaction last year with no support from government, adding that the Department of Mineral Resources could not claim to be dismayed by job cuts that it had failed to prevent.
"AMCU is still opposing this merger because it will result in job losses. These were planned by Sibanye and government. There is no one who assisted us in opposing this, not even government.
"If government puts profit before the people, what is the future of the country?" said Mathunjwa.
Asked by Fin24 what options the union was considering to protect the jobs now at risk at the mine and among contractors, Mathunjwa said AMCU would announce its next step next week.
"We fought this (transaction) and the government supported it, so what must we do? This government is pro-capital and has brought poverty and misery to this country’s people.
"If government is serious, they should amend Section 189 on ballots to strike. But as it is, this government belongs to capitalists," he said.
Sibanye senior vice president of investor relations James Wellsted told Fin24 that Sibanye tried to protect jobs by continuing operations such as 4B shaft, K3 mining into Siphumelele ground, Roland mining into MK2 ground as well as K4 concentrator.
'There is no further opposition'
"We obviously were in touch on the day, because we handed them notice. The union opposed the merger last year through the Competition Commission process. That delayed the transaction.
"There is no further opposition because the transaction is done and it did not cause these cuts," said Wellsted.
He said the company remained committed to discussions with organised labour on how to mitigate the impact on jobs.
After the job cuts were announced on Wednesday, the Department of Mineral Resources released a statement saying it was "disheartening" to hear of potential job losses at Sibanye-Stillwater.
In the statement, the Department urged the company and organised labour "to act responsibly" and in the interests of "the livelihoods of employees and their immediate families".