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AMCU gives strike notice to Sibanye-Stillwater

14 December 2018

On 13 December 2018, Sibanye Stillwater issued a media statement stating that it had extended the wage deal it covertly signed with rival unions; NUM, Solidarity and UASA to all employees at its operations.

AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa gave an update on the protected strike at a press briefing on 14 December 2018. Mathunjwa said, this latest move by Sibanye Stillwater was an unscrupulous act by the mining company and its management. “When members of AMCU fight and try to reshape their future Sibanye decides to shoot and kill them. The system does not give our people the opportunity to shape their future. AMCU is defying such and we will continue to fight together with our members,” Mathunjwa said.

He further updated members of the media that the protected strike mandated by AMCU members will continue until all due processes are followed, stating that all developments would be communicated at central mass meetings.

“We know we have a moral obligation to obey the laws of this country, however, we don’t have to obey an immoral system that is designed to enslave our members. We cannot continue folding our arms and putting our future in the hands of those who do not care. If you think Froneman will ever think about the future of a black worker, forget it. We need to do the work ourselves. As South Africans, we need to be born again and be what God created us to be,” he said.

Furthermore, Mathunjwa said, until Black people shift their mindset, they will forever be enslaved. “The struggle of AMCU is about dignity, it is not just about money. Sibanye Stillwater is a company that has the worst safety record in South Africa. It has recorded the largest number of fatalities in South Africa this year. Part of their success has been encouraged by a strong gold price and the enslavement of workers. On 21 November 2018, our members embarked on a strike to transform the slave regime,” he added.

Mathunjwa said the salaries earned by the executives at these mines are obscene. “We engaged the employer for a living wage, however instead of coming up with a solution, the employer decided to employ underhanded tactics. They started shooting our members. Our members were shot at by NUM members in front of Sibanye Stillwater security who did nothing. This was sponsored by Sibanye Stillwater in an effort to divide the working class. They have gone to the media to paint AMCU as a violent union; forgetting to mention that they are the ones sponsoring the violence that has occurred during the protected strike,” Mathunjwa continued.

He said the decision by the rival unions to sign the slave wage agreement was shocking. “AMCU met with NUM and urged them to not allow the monopoly capital to divide the working class. However, they lied, because they went and signed the slave agreement with the oppressors covertly. We will never win this fight against white monopoly capital because we cannot be honest with each other as unionists that represent the working class,” he said.

The wage agreement signed by the rival unions comprises of increases to the basic wage of Category 4-8 surface and underground employees of R700 per month in the first year, R700 per month in the second year and R825 per month in the third year. Miners, artisans and officials will receive increases of 5.5% in year one and 5.5% or CPI (whichever is the greater) in years two and three of the agreement.
AMCU has been reliably informed that Sibanye Stillwater’s senior management has undergone the process of recruiting members for rival unions; NUM, Solidarity and UASA. AMCU also understands that the management at Sibanye Stillwater has approached and enticed employees who currently do not belong to any union during working hours. They are doing this to increase members of NUM.

AMCU rejects the authenticity of this majority that has been announced by Sibanye. On the contrary, AMCU has received many applications from NUM members who have now joined AMCU. “We have held onto these applications until the time is right. A mere announcement is not enough. Sibanye Stillwater think they can push for an agreement signed by the minority.”

Mathunjwa urged AMCU members to remain calm during this time and not resort to violence. “Our members must wait for due processes to be concluded. We will continue to engage on the platforms given to us by our democracy. We are still on strike, Sibanye must prove that these three rival unions are indeed the majority and that does not happen overnight. How do they know NUM is now a majority when they have not run payroll? It is not possible that NUM would have managed to recruit all those members in such a short space of time. We have not received any resignations as AMCU from our members to show that they have now joined NUM,” he concluded.