Mathunjwa lashes Sibanye's Froneman for strike remarks

Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa. (Photo: Amcu)
Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa. (Photo: Amcu)

Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union president Joseph Mathunwa has slammed Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman for remarking that continued AMCU-led strikes at Sibanye operations hurt the company.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the 2019 Investing in African Mining Indaba at the Cape Town on Wednesday, Mathunjwa said Froneman should not have been allowed to level accusations against the union without President Cyril Ramaphosa and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe challenging those accusations.

"Look at Sibanye. We are in strike for three months now. Froneman was sitting here telling people that strike was put in place for years in order to hurt him.

"What did government say? What did Ramaphosa or Mantashe say? Nothing! They never reprimanded him," said Mathunjwa.

Speaking to CNBC Africa on Wednesday, Froneman had said Sibanye-Stillwater would not give AMCU a separate wage deal from the other unions at the mine.

Froneman also told CNBC Africa that while Sibanye-Stillwater was open to having unions on its board one day, companies needed an assurance that unions would appreciate and respect the fiduciary responsibilities boards have to companies and their shareholders.

Mathunjwa also rejected Ramaphosa’s remarks during his address on Tuesday that mining was still a "sunrise industry" in South Africa. He said a sunrise industry would not struggle to beneficiate, fail at industrialisation and allow exploitation of workers.

"The items you are seeing on the stand here are not even produced in South Africa. These are imports that aren’t even manufactured in this country. So what am I supposed to be impressed by?

"Then you have a minister who says mining must be humane, and still sits next to Froneman, who allow 23 breadwinners to be killed with no managers dismissed," said Mathunjwa.

By June 2018, the death toll at Sibanye mines had reached 20 for the year.

Following an appeal at the Competition Tribunal, AMCU will have an opportunity to oppose a share takeover of Lonmin by Sibanye-Stillwater in April. 

On Friday, meanwhile, Sibanye announced that its latest attempt to bring the strike to an end had failed. Sibanye had approached the Labour Court to rule that the AMCU  strike must cease pending the outcome of a process to establish which unions employees belonged to. 

The mining company argued that AMCU was causing delays to the verification process, but the court rejected the application.  

"We remain extremely concerned about the impact the protracted strike is having on the financial well-being of our employees, which is being exacerbated by ongoing delays to the verification process due to AMCU’s continual legal challenges," said Froneman. "We will continue to pursue various avenues, without compromising other stakeholders,to bring an end to this strike as soon as possible."

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