President Mathunjwa's Speeches
Memorandum of demands
22 January 2019
We, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), comprising close to two hundred thousand members in the mining, construction, manufacturing, transport, security and related sectors of our economy, have gathered today to engage in peaceful protest action to highlight our cause.
We have taken hands and marched for the plight of our comrades, the thousands of workers who are suffering slavery wages at the cruel hands of capitalist profits. We are marching in solidarity with our comrades who have been on protected industrial action at the gold operations of Sibanye-Stillwater at Beatrix, Kloof and Driefontein.
We have marched here, not only as members of Sibanye-Stillwater at the gold operations, but also as members from the platinum operations in Rustenburg. We have embarked on secondary strike action to show our support for, and solidarity with our comrades in gold.
As AMCU, we believe that the wage structure in the South African mining sector is a remnant of the discriminatory practices of the apartheid regime, which saw the mass exploitation of black mineworkers for the benefit of a few white industrialists and multinationals who control the respective mining houses, as endorsed by the Landsdowne Commission of 1944.
We believe that the Minerals Council, as proxy of the above mining houses, is ideally situated to receive our memorandum of demands, and intervene for the sake of social justice in the South African mining sector.
AMCU puts forward that Sibanye-Stillwater is starting to become a monopoly in South African mining. Its CEO, Neal Froneman has found ways to mine more efficiently, but unfortunately for all those who don’t share in his profits, this has come at a great expense.
The expense is felt hardest by the most vulnerable role-players in Sibanye-Stillwater: the black mineworkers. They must wake up every day and go down into the belly of the earth and toil for slavery wages. The conditions under which they must work, are horrendous. It is hot, dirty and very unsafe. One would expect that, at least these horrible conditions would result in fair payment, but no. They work for slavery wages starting from around R7 000 per month. Who can live on R7 000 per month? Who can put food on the table for their family? Who can clothe their loved ones? Who can afford to rent, let alone buy, a decent property with what’s left? Nobody can, and nobody should!
In stark contrast, the fat cat mining bosses of Sibanye-Stillwater are living in the lap of luxury. They own helicopters and yachts, they live in penthouses and drive cars that cost more than a mineworker will earn for his whole short life. Their pension contributions per month amount to more than the total salary of ordinary workers for a whole year!
In fact, just two weeks ago Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman boasted in Business Day about the fact that his income from platinum operations are making him immune from the strike in gold. He added insult to injury by stating that the strike did not hurt him at all, and that actually he was doing better due to the infamous “no-work-no-pay” rule applying to striking workers. This move was very short-sighted from a strategic point of view, and it has only served as further agitation of the employees he has exploited over time.
The company generates around a billion rand per month. While workers had to stomach an increase of less than 10% in 2017, the appetite of Froneman saw him take a generous increase of 32% for his personal benefit. Apart from his increase, he received a handsome bonus of R15,1 million that same year. A minute fraction of workers would meet this maybe twice a year.
Then, there is the bloated executive structure, which has expanded from the initial six (6) to the current sixteen (16), putting cost pressures on the shafts’ productivity efficiencies with regards to costs.
The parties are currently a mere R300 apart for year one of a three-year agreement, with AMCU sticking to its demand of a R1 000 increase per year, and Sibanye-Stillwater digging in its heels on R700 for year 1 and 2. Even though AMCU has attempted to engage with the negotiating team and even the Board of Directors, the response has been a resounding no.
In fact, rather than investing time and resources into finding a resolution to the wage dispute, Sibanye-Stillwater is spending most of its time trying to find legal loopholes to break the strike by AMCU. After a series of threatening letters, the company enlisted the help of no less than three major labour law firms to start a systematic process of launching litigatory attacks on the Union.
They also don’t spare no underhanded tactics like violence and intimidation, in an attempt to bend our members towards their will. They say that they have spent a mammoth R750 million on their security forces to curtail our strike. The demand by workers which calculates to R115 million per year, pales in comparison to the money they spend on their intimidatory tactics. What about their legal costs? What about the time and money lost in production? Just imagine if they could have spent all this money on addressing the wage dispute!
Lastly, we wish to highlight the fact that Sibanye-Stillwater is acting in contravention of the Minerals Councils Membership Compact, to which Sibanye-Stillwater is a signatory. The first objective of this compact is to build trust relationships with key stakeholders. The Compact Values are responsible citizenship, respect, trust, honesty, and accountability. The actions of Sibanye-Stillwater clearly fly in the face of these values.
- AMCU demands social justice for all workers!
- AMCU demands the economic emancipation of all workers!
- AMCU demands a humane economy, which cares about workers, communities, the environment and society in general!
- AMCU demands an end to the exploitative and oppressive economy inherited from apartheid!
- AMCU demands an end to the structural inequality at Sibanye-Stillwater!
- AMCU demands an end to the greed of the fat cat mining bosses of Sibanye-Stillwater!
- AMCU demands that the exorbitant salaries and benefits of mining bosses be curbed with immediate effect!
- AMCU demands that the Minerals Council investigates the breach of the Minerals Council Membership Compact in terms of Objective 1 and the Compact Values, by delegating the Minerals Council President to take action against Froneman!
- AMCU demands that Sibanye-Stillwater bosses start caring for their workers!
- AMCU demands that Sibanye-Stillwater stops killing their workers!
- AMCU demands that Sibanye-Stillwater is held accountable for health and safety failures!
- AMCU demands that Sibanye-Stillwater stops paying their workers slave wages!
- AMCU demands that Sibanye-Stillwater stops intimidating and harassing their workers!
- AMCU demands that Sibanye-Stillwater stops provoking workers who embark on peaceful strike action!
- AMCU demands that Sibanye-Stillwater stops spending millions on lawyers to try and break our strike!
- AMCU demands that Sibanye-Stillwater uses the millions of legal fees to pay us decent living wages!
- AMCU demands that Sibanye-Stillwater negotiators stop with their arrogant attitudes!
- AMCU demands that Sibanye-Stillwater comes back to the negotiating table and engages with AMCU in good faith!
- AMCU demands a living wage!
- AMCU demands an increase of R1000 per year for three years for category 4 to category 8 workers!
- AMCU demands an increase of 6% for miners, artisans and officials!
- AMCU demands social justice for all workers at Sibanye-Stillwater!
- AMCU demands economic emancipation of all workers at Sibanye-Stillwater!
AMCU remains committed to succeeding in our demands. We want Sibanye-Stillwater to return to the negotiating tables, so that we can find an amicable solution. Our campaign is motivated by truth and our quest for social justice, and therefore it is strong.
We demand that the Minerals Council plays a facilitatory role to ensure that Sibanye-Stillwater departs from their hard-headed stance – for the sake of the mining sector and for the sake of the country.
We hereby give you forty-eight (48) hours to respond to our demands, failing which we shall intensify our campaign of secondary strikes at the mining houses represented in the Minerals Council. AMCU will remain steadfast in our quest for a living wage!