AMCU gives strike notice to Sibanye-Stillwater
14 December 2018
As we congregate for this press release, we wish to aver our deepest condolences for the fallen martyrs of our struggle who have been put to the sword by the wrath of monopoly capital that would do everything possible to secure their insatiable greed. Our members have lost their lives, others have been subjected to dehumanizing treatment at the hands of various agents of monopoly capital.
Sibanye Stillwater is a company that has the worst safety record in the mining industry, recording the largest number of fatalities in 2018. It is a company that has built its business in buying old mines and transforming them to be profitable businesses. However, part of this success has not only been attributed to the genius business model adopted by this company by the slave driver mentality of its management.
The success of Sibanye has been anchored by a strong gold price in the past few years undergirded by slave wages paid to their workers. Through this process the company has made super profits some of which has been invested in the smelting business of Texas America.
The History of the South African mining industry is built upon cheap labor facilitated by the Chamber of Mines through the migrant labor system. This function of the Chamber of Mines has been transferred to TEBA that continues to facilitate the placement of workers.
The Chamber of Mines was fundamentally established to manage exploitative labor relations and has continued to regenerate itself as an employers’ association with quasi bargaining council functions. Through this, the genealogy of exploitation in the mining sector is intertwined with the history of the Chamber of Mines. As such these genes continue to manifest themselves strongly in the Gold Sector to this day.
Our members embarked on a protected strike in Sibanye Stillwater in a bid to transform the slave wage regime currently underway. This was done within the prism of our ineffective collective bargaining system which does not have a duty to bargaining and allows for massive inequalities between management and their lower end workers. The injustices workers created by obscene salaries earned by executives at the expense that sacrifice daily their lives in mining companies that are a death trap is not elevated in social discourse.
Our members engaged the employer for a living wage and continue to negotiate with the company during this protracted impasse. However, instead of seeking for a solution to this deadlock the employer has persistently sought to find measures of breaking this strike.
The employer first explored mechanisms to frustrate workers by instituting an unlawful lock-out of AMCU members from their places of residence. This was meant to spur a reaction that would probably have led to violence and plausible grounds an interdict.
However, when this strategy failed, the employer used its security guards to provoke violence from AMCU members. This was supported by other concomitant efforts to interdict the strike and declare it unprotected. AMCU was able to oppose all efforts and remained calm even when one of our members was shot dead by an NUM member.
The employer instituted ridiculous picketing rules that sought to divide workers which were rejected by members of AMCU. The employer continued in this acrimonious trail to further instruct its management staff employees to recruit workers for the NUM with a view of achieving a falsified majority status for their sweetheart union.
This has there culminated in the extension of a minority agreement to non – parties. Throughout the narration of these actions, it is clear that management has been bent on breaking the AMCU strike from all angles. There has not been a single aorta of effort invested by management to resolve this strike despite numerous advances from the AMCU leadership to explore various settlement zones.
We wish to confirm that we received a letter from the employer advising us that an agreement between the NUM, UASA and Solidarity was now been extended to AMCU members as per s23 (1) (d).
The letter does not advise us what has given effect to this extension save for speculation that the NUM has managed to organize members during the strike and they are now a majority.
The strike is less than a month away and the December payroll has not been run in the company and it is not possible that the NUM could have organized workers, processed their stop orders, conducted a verification exercise and concluded a new recognition agreement with a majority status in just over a week.
This fallacy is then further moribund when one considers that there have not been any resignations recorded from AMCU, especially considering that the union notice period to resign is one (1) month. As such any person who resigns from AMCU will continue to be considered an AMCU member until the resignation/notice period has lapsed. Therefore, such an individual cannot be double counted as a member of another union, and that statistic be used to validate a perilous attempt to conclude an extension agreement.
AMCU therefore rejects the authenticity of the letter submitted by the employer dated 13 December 2018. The oxymoron in the letter is the extension of an agreement by a minority party that continues to lose members during the strike.
AMCU has welcomed hundreds of former NUM members who have joined the struggle for better wages. We have held on to these application forms until the end of the strike and were hoping to engage the employer as employees returned to their workplace.
Now this action by the employer flies past all the efforts that sought to find a solution to the strike. Our members remain on strike as they are protected by the due process that was a precursor to this action.
A mere announcement cannot take away the protections given to our members by s64 of the LRA. Suffice to mention the agreement that is purportedly extended to AMCU members was signed a long ago when the NUM was still in the minority. At that stage it could not be extended due to the limitations of s23.
Now the employer wants to extend a minority agreement, concluded by a minority party, before the commencement of the strike to non-parties. It is ludicrous for the employer and its sweethearts to think that one can apply agreements retrospectively, which were concluded under a minority status.
We urge our members to remain calm and not engage in violent activity as we understand that this announcement is a provocative malice. We also advise our members not to report to work on Saturday as they are still in a protected strike until their demands have been met by the employer. We will continue to engage all stakeholders to try and find a solution to this impasse.