AMCU shocked by Sibanye’s arrogance
18 November 2018
Today, Sibanye-Stillwater showed its true colours in a media statement, bragging about its profits. To add injury to insult, CEO Neal Froneman boasts that the strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) was actually benefiting the company, and not hurting them. AMCU views this statement and approach as utterly reckless, and that it flies in the face of the socio-economic inequality which is so rife at Sibanye-Stillwater’s operations. The arrogance of Froneman encourages AMCU members to be steadfast in their demands.
The arrogance of Froneman has now been truly exposed. In 2016, Froneman took money from the Public Investment Company (PIC) – South African pensioners’ money – to go off and purchase the Stillwater operations in the United States of America (USA). Furthermore, Froneman’s clear anti-black worker agenda has been laid bare. While proudly announcing to retrench 12 500 workers to offset costs in USA, Froneman was clearly merely to maintain his mammoth salary and those of his ten musketeers at expense of the black workers. His interest is not in South Africa. His only interest is to sustain his exorbitant income.
If this government is serious about addressing the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment, they must start addressing the looting of our resources by the likes of Froneman. Sibanye-Stillwater’s executive, which still mostly comprise white men, amongst them pocketed R151 million during the last financial year. It is clear that, if executive pay could be capped, we will be saving thousands of jobs.
Froneman killed 23 breadwinners during 2018, but yet our government can take no legal steps against him. The future of the lives of their loved ones has been destroyed forever. He has surrounded himself with ex bosses of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) who are now prominent officials in government, and they advise him daily how to avoid paying workers what they deserve. He has created a soft landing for ex union bosses in his executive advisory board.
Actually, AMCU is not shocked at all. We knew all along that Sibanye-Stillwater’s claims of poverty were disingenuous lies. They are making good money, and they can truly afford to pay their workers a living wage. But no, rather Sibanye-Stillwater maintains the apartheid salary structure and injustice to blacks. These gold mines have been left unattended for so many years. While the NUM with its financial interests became increasingly conflicted, the mass exploitation of workers became the norm. Now, when AMCU enters the scene and engages in its mandated fight for just wages and fair conditions of employment, we see how Sibanye-Stillwater is doing all in its power to protect its position of privilege. We have seen how NUM, along with the other yellow unions, Solidarity and UASA, have sided with management in prolonging the exploitation of workers.
AMCU remains steadfast in its focus on the structural injustices in the gold mining sector. We remind Froneman that he used South African money to purchase Stillwater in the USA. His statement is not just arrogant, but utterly reckless. These mining bosses are using our mineral resources to build themselves pieces of heaven in other countries.
The fact of the matter is that Neal Froneman is no different to a mass murderer, and he should be arrested and put in jail. That is why he is making so much money, and why he can be so arrogant to boast in the newspapers. He is cutting corners where he can – both on safety measures and on paying living wages to his employees. Even worse, by this attitude he is actually challenging the government. Surely the government has the mandate to protect its people, and look after their socio-economic interests.
It is clear that Froneman made his money from the minerals that belong to the people of South Africa, and this money was used to buy his overseas assets. He has exploited workers to make maximum profit. He enslaved us to build his empire.
While Froneman comes to work in the luxury of his helicopter, and lands on his special helipad, the workers toil and sacrifice their lungs and their limbs on a daily basis. Ultimately, they sacrifice their lives.
It is evident that government is allowing Froneman to exploit workers for the sake of hyper profits and exorbitant incomes under the pretence of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Now his arrogance has pushed him to a point where he is actually provoking workers to show us that he is untouchable. AMCU will not be held ransom by such a capitalist! His attempts to tell us that our strike means nothing and that the sacrifices of our members are for nil, shall fail dismally. Our members’ mandate is for economic emancipation – now or never. They have vowed never to go back to Froneman’s slavery wages! Never!