Sibanye unions to intensify strike, calling on Ramaphosa to step in

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AMCU supporters at a Marikana commemoration.
AMCU supporters at a Marikana commemoration.
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As the strike at Sibanye-Stillwater's gold mine enters its second month, unions plan to intensify the action through protest marches, a secondary strike at platinum mines, and are calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene.

The action plan comes 35 days since the strike began at the gold operations as unions and Sibanye failed to reach a wage agreement.

Against a wage demand of a R1 000 increase in each year of a three-year wage agreement, Sibanye has offered R700.

After meeting on Monday, the striking unions - the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) - announced they will embark on additional protest marches to garner public support and increase pressure on the company.

"The planned protest action includes protest marches to the JSE, the Union Buildings, as well as the head offices of prominent media houses, including the South African Broadcasting Corporation [SABC] for [its] business-biased reporting and lack of coverage of the strike and the campaign for a better life," the unions said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

The unions said they have also agreed to put further pressure on the company by giving notice of a secondary strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s platinum operations, where wage talks are currently under way. This will include the Rustenburg and Marikana operations and will involve close to 35 000 workers downing tools.

AMCU and NUM have also resolved to call on Ramaphosa to urgently intervene and resolve the current labour dispute at Sibanye-Stillwater.

Unions said the strike has been characterised by peace and their members have been disciplined.

"The workers are strong in their conviction, and they remain steadfast in their demand for a better life and livelihood while working in the belly of the earth," AMCU and NUM said.

"Thanks to the commodity boom which coincided with the global pandemic, Sibanye could pay [its] CEO [Neal Froneman] a salary of R13.336 million and a bonus of … R13.3 million. They paid R5.6 billion in dividends to shareholders. At the core of the dispute which led to the strike is a mere R300 per worker per month," they said, noting that the R1 000 increase in each year had been agreed to by Harmony Gold. 

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