14 March 2019
Mine Actively Involving Police Force In Labour Dispute
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has received pictures of armoured police vehicles being serviced at Sibanye-Stillwater workshops. The Union shows how this is more proof of the toxic relationship between Sibanye-Stillwater and the State to intimidate AMCU members. AMCU points out how this same approach is what led to the Marikana Massacre in 2012, when Lonmin mobilised the South African Police Services (SAPS) to supress striking workers.
On Tuesday AMCU received evidence of SAPS vehicles (known as Inyalas) being serviced in Sibanye-Stillwater workshops at its operations on the West Rand. AMCU has forwarded these pictures to the Minister of Mineral Resources, Mr Gwede Mantashe and the Minister of Police, Mr Bheki Cele, as well as to the advisors of the State President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa. Thus far, AMCU has received no response from these government officials. According to reports, one of the Inyalas in the pictures was from a neighbouring city which points to a province-wide mobilisation by SAPS.
These very same signals were identified in August of 2012, when Lonmin set up a Joint Organising Committee (JOC) consisting of various SAPS units in the North-West and Gauteng with the aim of breaking the strike at its operations in Marikana, outside of Rustenburg. This over-militaristic approach led to the death of 34 unarmed mineworkers on 16 August 2012.
This militaristic approach of Sibanye-Stillwater saw it erecting barbed wire at its Beatrix operations in December last year, just after the strike started. The mine immediately started intimidating members and paraded them to coerce them to resign from AMCU. Then they gathered fake employment figures to create the impression that minority trade unions together allegedly formed a majority, met secretly to sign an addendum to the wage agreement, and sought to extend the wage agreement to AMCU on 13 December 2018. This would render AMCU’s strike unprotected as the dispute would be legally viewed as being resolved. On that same day, Sibanye-Stillwater enhanced their intimidation of AMCU members by sending out messages that, if they failed to report for duty on 15 December 2018, they would be dismissed. Sibanye-Stillwater also immediately removed all welfare facilities at the picketing areas and misled the SAPS to come and disperse the picketing workers, under the guise that they were involved in an illegal or unprotected strike.
The above involvement of SAPS led to the wrongful arrest of 84 AMCU members at Beatrix, as well as the death of one member. During this period, Sibanye-Stillwater capitalised on the fiction that the strike is unprotected and executed mass dismissals of AMCU members at the operations. It is now clear that the delays on the part of Neal Froneman to resolve the wage dispute, is because of the collusion between Sibanye-Stillwater and the State. AMCU wrote several letters to report this misuse of state resources to address a labour dispute, but to no avail.