South African gold mine operator to meet workers as strike looms

A coalition of South African worker unions has rejected the latest offer from mining company Sibanye-Stillwater.

Workers are seen underground in a mine on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa. [File: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]
Workers are seen underground in a mine on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa [File: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

South African mining company Sibanye-Stillwater is set to meet unions this week over a looming strike at its gold operations in the country.

On Monday, a spokesperson for the company, which has one of the largest mining operations nationwide, said a meeting with unions would take place this week, but did not specify a day.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), which has been mediating between the two sides, cleared the unions to give strike notice a month ago after declaring an impasse in wage talks.

South Africa’s major unions, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity, and UASA have been negotiating as a united coalition for the first time.

NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu told the press that the coalition met on Sunday and voted to reject Sibanye’s latest wage offer. “They rejected it,” he said. “The majority voted to embark on a strike.”

He added that the unions would only serve Sibanye with a 48-hour strike notice after meeting the company’s management if the deadlock remains.

Earlier in February, Sibanye tabled its final offer which would have increased underground workers’ wages by 800 rands a month ($52.76) in each of the three years under negotiation. Other categories, including artisans and officials, would have gotten 5 percent increases over the same period.

But Mammburu said the unions’ demand of 1,000 rands a month ($65.95) increases for each of the three years remained unchanged.

Currently, the mining industry employs more than 450,000 people and accounts for about 8% of the economy.

Source: News Agencies