28 February 2019, Braamfontein – Judgement has been reserved in the case between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and several mining companies pertaining to the secondary strike by the Union. The mining companies which were served with secondary strike notices took to court in a bid to try and obtain an interdict to stop AMCU members in the platinum sector from embarking on a secondary strike. AMCU issued seven-days strike notices to several gold and platinum companies on 20 February 2019.
In terms of the Labour Relations Act, AMCU is required to meet three conditions in order to ensure the secondary strike is protected; the Union is required to give seven days’ notice to the companies it wants to engage in a secondary strike; the primary strike must be in a protected status and the nature and extent of the secondary strike must be reasonable in relation to the possible direct or indirect effect that it may have on the business of the primary employer. AMCU meets the first two requirements and are awaiting judgement on the last requirement.
The Union believes that the secondary strike will send a strong message to Sibanye-Stillwater and its CEO Neal Froneman, who has been resisting demands for wage increases.
In court, AMCU’s legal counsel argued that the mining companies that were served with notices are part of the Minerals Council and they all have an agreement that stipulates that each of the members must act in good faith with one another. Therefore, these companies should convince Sibanye-Stillwater to act in good faith by agreeing to AMCU’s wage demands, therefore putting an end to the strike. “They have a right and the power to enforce the pact they signed as members of the Minerals Council. They are at liberty to enforce the agreement on Sibanye-Stillwater,” said AMCU’s legal counsel.
In their court submissions, some of the mining companies cited violence as one of the reasons why they are opposing AMCU’s secondary strike. However, AMCU’s legal counsel argued that, they cannot base their arguments on the allegations that the ongoing strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold operations was marred by violence. “The alleged violence by AMCU members in the gold sector is nothing but a smear campaign by some to try and end the strike. So far, there is no proof that has been brought forward to prove that indeed AMCU members were involved in any violence during the protest. Unproven allegations cannot be submitted as fact in court,” he concluded.
The secondary strike was due to commence on 28 February 2019, but it has been postponed until the judge’s decision on the matter.