FOUR employees of Sibanye Gold were injured, two seriously, following illegal industrial action during the night shift on October 3 at the firm’s Cooke shafts where a dispute had broken out regarding union membership.
The company said in a statement today that it had started a process of verifying union membership at Cooke, where the Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (AMCU) has members, about two weeks ago.
The process had been “repeatedly” explained to mine employees and had been facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, the company said.
Sibanye Gold CEO, Neal Froneman, said it was “regrettable” AMCU had taken to an illegal strike. Discussions with AMCU regarding the verification process were underway in order to address the unions concerns, he said.
The Sibanye employees were attacked by unknown assailants in the early hours of today (October 4). Froneman said the company would take “strong action” against her perpetrators.
“We are concerned about the acts of intimidation and violence and call upon all union members to respect the rights of other employees who wish to work,” said Froneman.
“It is regrettable that AMCU has taken this course of action when all employees were fully appraised of the verification process,” said Froneman.
“We are concerned about the acts of intimidation and violence and call upon all union members to respect the rights of other employees who wish to work. We are in discussions with AMCU to resolve their concerns,” he said.
“The assault of Sibanye employees is unacceptable and we are investigating these incidents and will take strong action against the perpetrators. We call on the unions to ensure that their members show restraint”, said Froneman.
Sibanye said in July that it would have to impair Cooke 4 shaft by R820m amid the possible closure of the operation, as well as the Ezulwini gold and uranium processing plant. It had been accumulating losses despite the record rand gold price.
A 60-day review of the asset, called a Section 189 process, has commenced. Cooke 4 and Ezulwini employs 1,700 full time workers and 800 contractors.
Sibanye has had run-ins with AMCU this year including a decision in June to suspend four AMCU members following illegal strike action at the firm’s Kroondal Platinum Mine.